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China has gone “nuts” over  Blue Diamond almonds, it seems.

The country is slated to purchase at least $50 million in almonds over the next year. The Sacramento, Calif. nut processing company’s Global Ingredient Division (GDI) and Chinese commerce official Bian Zhenhu signed a “memorandum of understanding” in San Francisco last week regarding the deal.

Exports to China from 2011 to June have reached nearly 230 million lbs. — a 41% increase over the previous year, says Bill Morecraft, GID general manager and Blue Diamond signer.

The millions of pounds include both “in-shell” and shelled almonds used for baking and manufacturing.

“Blue Diamond’s Global Ingredient Division pioneered bringing almonds to China nearly 40 years ago,” Morecraft says. “Since then, China has grown to be the largest importer of almonds in the world.”

Largest importer, indeed. According to the Almond Board of California’s 2011 Almond Almanac, China purchased 168 million lbs. of almonds in 2010-11 — 10 million more than Spain, the next largest importer.

And if this new deal is any indication, China doesn’t show any signs of slowing imports — or demand — for the California crop.