Bian Zhenhu, president of the China Chamber of Commerce for The Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products, Beijing, and Bill Morecraft, general manager of Blue Diamond Almonds Global Ingredient Division, Sacramento, Calif., jointly signed a memorandum of understanding on July 24 for Chinese companies to buy at least $50 million of Blue Diamond almonds in the next 12 months.

On hand for the signing ceremony at San Francisco City Hall were California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Vice Minister of Commerce for China Wang Chou.

“Blue Diamond’s Global Ingredient Division pioneered bringing almonds to China nearly 40 years ago,” says Morecraft. “Since then, China has grown to be the largest importer of almonds in the world. Shipments to China, for the 2011 crop year through June, have reached nearly 230 million pounds, 41% over last year.”

Morecraft added that the Blue Diamond products going to China are either in-shell or kernels destined as ingredients for snacking or use in manufacturing.