When Don Barton left his native California after earning an MBA in Agribusiness, he cut his marketing teeth at some of the finest food marketing companies in America — including Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. and The H.J. Heinz Corporation. But he also told his brothers that, if they ever needed marketing help, they should give him a call.
That call came in the late summer of 2002 after Brent Barton had spoken to his neighbor, Joe Gambini. Mr. Gambini wanted to determine the Bartons’ interest in taking over the management of his walnut shelling and packing operation. Brent called Don to see if he was interested in leaving his career in packaged goods marketing to head up the potential new venture. After visiting the operation and learning more about the opportunity from his brothers and Mr. Gambini, Don and his wife, Jan, decided to move from the East Coast back to California to launch the family’s new business – GoldRiver Orchards.
Don and the rest of the family immediately recognized that maintaining the Barton family heritage of uncompromising quality has, and always will be, the Company’s highest priority – despite the unique challenges that are encountered with rapid growth. You can rely on the fact that the objectives set for GoldRiver Orchards walnut processing meet or exceed the industry’s highest standards for excellence.
GoldRiver Orchards operates under strict HACCP guidelines that are documented and tracked daily. All of our outgoing shipments are graded and certified by the American Council for Food Safety and Quality. This organization (formerly known as the California Dried Fruit Association) serves under the auspices of the United States Department of Agriculture as the official enforcement agency of the industry’s grades and standards.
While all of GoldRiver’s shipments receive the ACFSQ certification for quality, GoldRiver has set a much higher quality standard (please refer to our specification sheets for each product under the “Resources” section). For example, what many packers consider “high spec” material is routinely packed by GoldRiver Orchards as its standard pack. This commitment to quality includes a series of rigorous checks before each bin of walnuts is passed to the next step in our processing procedure.
All product is cleaned, sorted, passed through magnets and metal detection equipment, and is sampled and analyzed the day it is packed to ensure that our quality standards are being met. And until those standards are met, nothing leaves our plant. After all, every box has our family name on it – a consistent reminder that we must live up to our heritage of quality and excellence.
In June 2013, GoldRiver proudly moved into its new home on Enterprise Road in Escalon, California. The new plant, consisting of slightly over 100,000 square feet of processing, storage, and office space, is a state of the art facility, affording GoldRiver the opportunity to enhance its productivity, reduce its costs, and raise its quality.
In 2016, GoldRiver received its 7th consecutive Pinnacle Award—given to those processors who achieve an “Excellent” rating on each of three unannounced plant audits conducted by the American Council for Food Safety and Quality, headquartered in Sacramento, California. The plant has also recently been successfully HACCP-certified, ensuring that GoldRiver adheres to modern food safety standards.
GoldRiver Orchards maintains the highest food safety standards in the tree nut industry, as signified by two significant achievements.
First, the company is SQF Level 2 certified. The SQF Institute is based in Arlington, Virginia and is one of a handful of certification agencies whose standards conform to the highest food safety standards under the Global Food Safety Initiative(Gfsi).
In order to qualify, GoldRiver had to pass two separate audits—a “desk audit” which comprised a two-day review of the company’s HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan and documentation to ensure that GoldRiver was structurally and organizationally prepared to meet the high standards, and a plant audit, which stretched over the better part of three days. The certification means that GoldRiver Orchards’ food safety standards meet the strictest standards in the world, and opens the door for GoldRiver to be able to sell its products to the most discerning buyers.
Second, the company recently received its 7th consecutive Pinnacle Award from Safe Food Alliance (formerly DFA). Under the Safe Food Alliance program, each member must submit itself to three unannounced food safety audits per year. These audits are scored on a 2000 point scale, and any score above 1800 is considered “Excellent”. If the reviewed company receives this Excellent rating on all three of its audits, it receives the Pinnacle Award. GoldRiver Orchards has achieved this distinction in every year it has been a member of Safe Food California, going back to 2009.
In addition to production from the Barton Ranch, GoldRiver Orchards also purchases walnuts from a select group of neighboring growers from the San Joaquin Valley of California.Preparing walnuts for shipment. They all have one thing in common: they consistently deliver outstanding field quality walnuts to GoldRiver.
Although the USA is the Company’s largest single market, GoldRiver Orchards exports the majority of its products to markets in the Far East, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and South America. In the past few years, the Company has made significant inroads into Japan – generally considered to be the most quality-conscious and demanding export market in the world. Last year, GoldRiver Orchards shipped its walnuts to 26 countries on six continents.