EL CENTRO — Silverdale Cheese is due to start production shortly, according to owner Sandy Tung, who addressed the Imperial County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, May 9.
After receiving a $490,000 County loan in February, Silverdale Cheese was able to move forward in reopening the old Imperial Valley Cheese facility west of El Centro.
Now the company, which will specialize in co-pack cutting and wrapping, is in place to begin production of two brands. The first will be the Silverdale brand, and the other a more generic brand.
“We should be in production probably next week,” confirmed Tung. “We already made cheese and made samples. We’ve sent them as far as Mexico and L.A.”
Silverdale’s market will also include Vietnam and Tijuana.
Tung also noted the facility could meet the specifications required by Blue Apron, a meal delivery service which ships over 8 million meals per month. As such, Blue Apron could be a sizeable market for Silverdale Cheese.
“The small pieces of cheese that they need is very lucrative; there’s not a lot of people who can do it,” shared Tung. “But we can do it with our equipment.”
The company aims to market its goods as Imperial Valley products. Every Silverdale label will include the phrase “Manufactured in Imperial County” and a portion of the products distributed will also feature a Valley-centric brand. Imperial County Board of Supervisors was asked for its opinion on what that brand name could be.
“We wanted something that was typical to Imperial Valley,” said Tung. “We chose Sunbeam Lake or Imperial County, as people use ‘Sonoma County’.”
The Board indicated its approval of Silverdale’s branding strategy, and suggested to tour the facility once production starts.
According to Tung, fifteen employees are currently working on site and have completed all the necessary training, including the OSHA trainings required for exports. Necessary permits and certificates for initial production have also been acquired.
“We achieved our health certificate two and half weeks ago,” said Tung. “So we are ready to go.”
The company’s approach to hiring, according to Tung, involved selecting candidates whose employment might benefit more than just themselves.
“We choose people that would make the biggest difference in Imperial County — men with children, women with children, that kind of thing — rather than single men who we thought might be very good, but we can’t make a big impact in the County like that.”
To show their appreciation, the employees of the facility sent a thank you card to the Board with personalized messages.