Almond grower and processor Blue Diamond is growing at a double-digit pace and officials say a timely investment in new product innovation will help ensure future growth. The cooperative opened a 6,500-square-foot Almond Innovation Center in mid-March.
“Every major innovation in almonds has come from Blue Diamond,” says Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond president and CEO. “As a result, we are expanding our Sacramento headquarters to include the world’s only research center dedicated to designing cutting-edge almond products.”
A cooperative representing more than half of California’s almond growers, Blue Diamond says it expects to increase new almond product sales five-fold during the next five years. The new facility will drive new almond product concepts for the organization’s consumer and industrial sales channels.
Jansen says Blue Diamond’s 2012 snack product sales broke the cooperative’s North American records. While Blue Diamond’s snack almond business grew 21 percent, sales for the Almond Breeze Aseptic Milk business jumped 21 percent and chilled Almond Milk sales jumped by 59 percent. Nut Thins cracker sales rose 28 percent. New snack products introduced early in 2013 include Roasted Coffee, Mocha and Caramel Macchiato flavored almonds, and three fruit-inspired flavors, Raspberry, Blueberry and Strawberry.
Officials say Blue Diamond’s global ingredient business—producing almond products for a variety of other foods—also increased sales by 35 percent during 2012.
“Global almond product innovation has doubled Blue Diamond revenues in three years to well over $1 billion in sales,” says Jansen. “The robustness of U.S. almond shipments, even with this year’s short supply, is directly attributable to new uses for almonds that our cooperative has created.”
Officials say almonds remain in first place as the leading nut in new food products worldwide.
Officials estimate that more than 80 percent of the world’s supply is grown in California. They say almonds are California’s largest food export and the largest specialty crop export in America. Blue Diamond officials value the 2-billion pound California almond crop at $6 billion and say it generates nearly 50,000 jobs. They say new jobs and additional revenue will be returned to almond growing communities as production and value-added products continue to grow.