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Blue Diamond Growers says its global almond sales soared to $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2012-13, up $189 million from the previous fiscal year. Value-added sales volume increased by 14%, even with a crop that was 7% smaller, according to president and CEO Mark Jansen, who addressed the cooperative’s grower owners at their 103rd annual meeting in November. Value-added sales now represent more than 60% of the co-op’s revenue, including manufactured ingredients and consumer retail products.
“We accelerated our transformation into a global branded food manufacturing company, while making significant investments to ensure continued profitable growth,” says Jansen. “In April we opened our Almond Innovation Center on our Sacramento, [Calif.], campus followed by the June grand opening of our Turlock plant, the largest single investment in the history of the California almond industry. We will lead the world tree nut industry in almond product innovation and double our capacity with cutting-edge plant technology designed for producing the highest quality almond products in the world.”
“There’s no other way to express the 2012 crop results than to say, ‘excellence delivered,’” says chairman of the board Clinton Shick, a grower from McFarland, Calif. “This is the third year in a row for returning record revenue per acre to Blue Diamond growers. The 2012 crop exceeded the 2011 record by 21%, making the final total grower payment of $828 million the largest single payment ever made to almond growers!”
Margin enhancement projects included improved manufacturing yields and faster processing lines, resulting in cost reductions of $11.3 million, for a three-year compounded savings of $38 million. “Margin enhancements fuel our investments in new facilities, breakthrough advertising and global markets,” Jansen explains. “It also allows us to pay our growers industry-leading returns.”
In North America, the branded consumer business increased 30% to $469 million. More than 15 new products emerged that included Iced Coffee Almond Breeze, Artisan Nut Thins and coffee- and fruit-flavored snack almonds. Snack almond sales jumped 22% versus the prior year, while Chilled Almond Breeze sales skyrocketed 74% and Aseptic Almond Breeze climbed 40%. Artisan Nut Thins were up 38% over the same period.
Sales are expected to stay firm as Blue Diamond partners with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to be the official snack nut of the U.S. Ski, Snowboarding and Freeskiing Teams as they prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Internationally, Blue Diamond’s branded sales were up 90% in volume versus the prior year, while net sales were up 95%. For the first time in the cooperative’s history, branded advertising aired on three continents—North America, Australia and Europe. Blue Diamond Global Ingredients sold fewer commodity almonds in a short crop, but still managed to grow its manufactured ingredient business volume by 14%. This business has doubled in size over the last four years, according to Blue Diamond Growers.