Clif Bar breaks ground in southern Idaho

Carol Ryan Dumas/Capital Press Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson, co-owners of Clif Bar & Company, raise a shovel of soil during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Clif Bar Baking Co. in Twin Falls, Idaho, on March 12.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Groundbreaking ceremonies for Clif Bar Baking Co.’s first owned and operated bakery, which will produce two of its energy and nutrition bars, drew a large and enthusiastic crowd here on March 12.

The new $90 million, 270,000-square-foot bakery will help the company meet growing demand worldwide and bring more than 200 jobs when it opens in the spring of 2016, company officials said.

It could also bring new opportunities for local organic growers, according to Clif Bar CEO Kevin Cleary.

“We’re very interested in locally grown (and) very interested in organic oats,” he said.

Cleary declined to reveal the amount of oats the company purchase but said it’s “a lot.”

The company utilizes 120 different organic ingredients — fruits, nuts, seeds and grain — among its 19 brands and about 150 products, he said.

While its ingredients are not 100 percent organic, 75 percent are organic or sustainably grown, he said.

That fits with one of the company’s five aspirations — a sustainable planet — and could arguably align with two of its other aspirations of sustainable brands and a sustainable business.

Clif Bar, based in Emeryville, Calif., used 97 million pounds of organic ingredients in 2014, Clif Bar General Manager Dale Ducommun said at an organic conference in Twin Falls in late January.

The company is looking for more organic suppliers to meet its growing needs, he said.

One avenue to sourcing ingredients from local growers for the Twin Falls bakery operation would be some sort of cooperative milling operation where local growers could mill their grain, he said.

“As a company, we’re talking about how we do that and buy locally,” he said.

The Clif Bar Baking Co. will set up operations on 90 acres, just south of the Chobani Greek yogurt plant, which began production in November 2012.

The bakery will be built with sustainability in mind, embracing two more company aspirations — sustainable people and sustainable community.

It will include state-of-the-art processing and packaging, energy efficient systems and features, natural light throughout the plant, a small amphitheater for company events, employee access to landscaped outdoors areas through break rooms, a walking and biking trail, and bee and butterfly habitat, Cleary said.

Clif Bar owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford said Twin Falls’ outdoor community is a good fit for their adventure-brand company, and building from the ground up will allow them to incorporate their values of sustainability into the operation and into the community.

They’ve also been wowed by the overwhelming support of the community, business leaders and government officials, they said.

“Everyone has been so welcoming and collaborative. It feels so good to have the support,” Erickson said.

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