The California Central Valley stretches 450 miles covering the center of the state with its fertile Sacramento Valley in the North, and vast San Joaquin Valley in the South. Within this valley are found all of North America’s almond orchards, as well as enough almonds to fill 70% of worldwide demand. With more than 6000 growers, the California almond industry is a model of strategic cooperation from the farm to the processor and the export trade. More than 75% of California’s almonds are shipped across the globe by ocean container via the ports of Oakland, Los Angeles, and Long Beach.
In just 30 years, the California almond crop has grown from 326,000 to 780,000 acres, with yields that have doubled and crop values that grew from around $300 million to $3.5 billion (USD). In the 2011 crop season, industry shipments grew by 15% and the crop surpassed the 2 billion pound level. If recent history is any measure, then future crops will continue to break these records.
Such dramatic growth is possible not only because of remarkable success in efficient orchard production at home, but also because of astounding market response from emerging markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India, and China. Hilltop Ranch is no stranger to these territories, and an important player in the story of California’s almond industry. Members of our Hilltop Ranch family have served in positions at the Almond Board from board chairperson to committees on finance, emerging markets, food quality & safety, and others.
The industry is working to improve the sustainability of almond operations. Hilltop Ranch is working hard to pioneer these improvements, as our Sustainability page reports.
The Almond Hullers and Processors Association promotes Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in the industry, and the sharing of operational data that can benefit all sectors of the almond economy. Hilltop Ranch promotes both GAP and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) models throughout its organization.
As the California almond industry looks forward, Hilltop Ranch sustains the need for ongoing investment in marketing and promotion. Through the Almond Board of California, the industry spends over $30 million per year for advertising, PR, and promotions. Thus in its review of the almond outlook recently, the National Agricultural Statistics Service said: “World demand for almonds continues to rise, perception of the almond has never been better, nor awareness higher. The industry has never been more unified in its promotional efforts and marketing direction.” We could not say it better!