GRANDVIEW - Walking through the new Bybee Foods building off of Grandridge Road in Grandview, it is easy to imagine the rush of noise and buzz of activity that will soon fill the plant when the large pieces of machinery roar to life, and pounds and pounds of peas start running down the processing line.
In less than a month, Bybee Foods LLC hopes to start up its processing line and begin a busy season that will stretch through October, according to Plant Manager Kevin Tibbett.
Tibbett explained that Bybee Foods is a sister company of both Bybee Farms in Prosser and Bybee Fresh Cut Foods in Pasco. He said Bybee Foods will serve as the processing plant for the farms' products, as well as products from contracted growers. He noted that Bybee Foods will be processing peas, green beans and corn at the Grandview facility.
Bybee Foods is a new company that was started in February, which is when it moved into the Grandview facility. Tibbett said since then employees have been working to clean up and update the equipment that was located at the processing plant.
In recent years the plant has been operated by Grandview Foods LLC and Grandview Frozen Foods. Previous to that it was operated by Agri-Pac.
To date, Tibbett said Bybee Foods has invested nearly $4 million in new equipment into the food processing facility.
Food processing is not a simple process. Tibbett explained that once the produce arrives at the plant, most of it is being brought in from farms within a 30-mile radius of Grandview, it is dumped into machines that begin the washing and sorting process.
After going through several washing cycles, the produce is blanched, flash frozen and packed in large totes. Tibbett said the large totes are then either stored or sold to companies for use in things like frozen dinners and other prepared foods.
Tibbett explained that the product that is stored is later brought back through the packing line, where it is repacked into individual retail sized packages.
Tibbett said Bybee Foods coming to Grandview will mean the creation of 18 to 25 full-time jobs, with seasonal employment expected to top out at about 300. He noted that more employees are needed to process green beans and corn than peas.