Despite recent concerns over bee-assisted pollination impacting production, the president and CEO of the Almond Board of California, Richard Waycott, says that the state has just harvested its third largest crop ever.
The US accounts for 83% of the world’s supply of almonds, while California is the largest producing state yielding 80% of that global figure. Europe makes a far off second with 10%, of which Spain contributes the majority.
Drop in production
According to Mintec data, production from California in 2013/14 is forecast to be down 2% year on year to around 800,000 tonnes. This has largely been seen as an issue of pollination, but Waycott told BakeryandSnacks.com that due to certain initiatives almond pollination in the state is good.
“The Almond Board has been working for many years with the beekeeping community and with the scientific community to discover, promote and put into practice healthy beekeeping methodology and best practice. So over time we are working to improve the health of the bee population in the US," he explained.
He said that the state has just harvested its third largest crop ever and that these yields are expected to continue to grow due to a recent increase in planting in California.
Waycott said that this 2% drop was when compared to the second largest crop ever. “Historically we do tend to trail off sometimes. That’s just that mother nature intervenes and our yields go down a little bit before they increase again. So we expect to be producing record crops here again in the near future,” he said.
However James Hutchings, data development manager at Mintec, told this site: “In contrast, EU imports of shelled almonds have been stable at around 200,000 to 220,000 tonnes for the past five years.”
Increased demand, increasing prices
Hutchings said that as a result of these production issues almond prices in the EU have risen with demand as a result of what he called a “lack of availability” from the top global producer.
As well as this drop in production, he said another major factor affecting the almond market is the rise in Chinese almond consumption. “According to the USDA, Chinese imports of shelled almonds have risen from 30,200 tonnes in 2008/09 to 150,000 tonnes in 2012/13 (last season),” he explained.
Waycott said that China is their largest export market today and that the use of almonds in China is primarily as a snack.
“With the growing middle class they are able to afford a lot more imported products than they used to years ago,” Waycott said.
“So it’s the same phenomenon going on to a lesser extent in India and other emerging countries where financial wealth is allowing consumers to try new things that we in the US and Europe are very used to. That’s stimulating a lot of growth in that country.”