Blue Diamond Growers Annual Meeting
At the 113th Blue Diamond Growers “Growing Together” Annual Meeting on Nov. 15 in Modesto, CEO Kai Bockmann delved into the significant challenges faced by the world’s largest almond cooperative. This reflection, shared with Board Chairman Dan Cummings, outlines a strategic growth plan to counter industry headwinds.
Almond Industry Challenges Laid Bare
Bockmann and Cummings highlighted the numerous challenges impacting the almond industry, including escalating input costs, inflationary pressures, market price depressions, shifts in consumer shopping patterns, adverse weather conditions, and reduced crop sizes. Blue Diamond Growers acknowledges these hurdles and is determined to overcome them through a robust strategic growth plan.
Navigating Volatility with Aggressive Growth
“Volatility is our new normal, but our destination is set – and it is one of growth,”
declared Bockmann. Despite challenges faced by growers, the cooperative is confident in its rich history, exceptional brand, and skilled workforce. The aggressive growth plan focuses on expanding into the food service sector and international markets, enhancing the value-added business, fostering product innovation, and driving operational efficiencies.
Diversifying Beyond Snack Almonds
Bockmann emphasized the need for diversification and innovation. Blue Diamond aims to venture into the massive food service channel, strategically select international markets, and strengthen its value-added business. The cooperative plans to double down on product innovation and operational efficiencies while broadening its product portfolio beyond flagship brands, Blue Diamond Snack Almonds® and Almond Breeze®.
Flavor-Focused Innovation and Success
The CEO highlighted the success of Chilé N Lime flavored snack nuts, showcasing Blue Diamond’s flavor expertise. The company’s Research & Development team will continue innovating with new flavors and expanding into categories such as plant-based yogurt, chocolate, baking, beverages, and plant-based cheese. The strategic growth plan is already yielding results, evident in collaborations like Almond Breeze® Barista Blend at Starbucks in China.
Supporting Growers and Sustainability Initiatives
In addition to strategic planning, Blue Diamond launched the Growers Connect Marketplace to reduce production costs. This initiative connects growers with trusted suppliers, negotiating discounts to reduce costs by 5-15%. The cooperative is also committed to sustainability, hosting webinars and offering incentives through the Orchard Stewardship Incentive Program.
USDA Grant Boosts Climate-Smart Practices
Blue Diamond’s commitment to stewardship is underscored by a $45 million USDA grant for climate-smart practices. The grant complements the Orchard Stewardship Incentive Program, encouraging growers to implement practices enhancing orchard biodiversity, improving soil health, and achieving Bee-Friendly Farming certification.
Confidence in Overcoming Challenges
Despite a challenging year, Cummings expressed confidence in the loyalty and leadership demonstrated by the board, the resilience of growers, and the dedication of Blue Diamond employees. The cooperative is poised to deliver prosperity and a sustainable future.
Blue Diamond Annual Report Now Available
Explore Achievements and Plans for the Future
The Blue Diamond Growers 2023 “Growing Together” Annual Report, unveiled at the Annual Meeting, is now accessible on the Blue Diamond website. Visit www.bluediamond.com to explore the cooperative’s achievements, challenges, and plans for the future.
About Blue Diamond
A Century of Almond Excellence
Established in 1910, Blue Diamond Growers represents approximately 3,000 of California’s almond growers. As the world’s leading almond marketer and processor, Blue Diamond is dedicated to delivering the benefits of almonds globally. Headquartered in Sacramento, the cooperative employs over 1,800 people, contributing to its legacy of creating and expanding the California almond industry.