The Growth of Almond Production
The demand for almonds has skyrocketed in recent years, due mostly to the global shift toward a healthier lifestyle. More and more people consume almond milk as a healthier alternative to dairy or soil milk, and peanut butters are even being replaced with butters made from their almond cousins. Thanks to increased demand, farmers are feeling the pressure to produce more almonds than ever before.
Numbers from the Almond Board of California
The state of California produces roughly 82% of the world’s almonds. For about 400 miles across the Golden State, there are 800,000 acres of nothing but almond trees as far as the eye can see. As such, the Almond Board of California is considered a world expert, and their data is highly esteemed. The January 2018 Almond Market Review shows tremendous growth, even over the year prior.
- Demand: Demand for domestic shipments was up 7.7% from the year before, and exports were up a staggering 41.6% over 2016. India, China, and Turkey are some of the world’s biggest buyers of California almonds.
- Supply: About 7% more almonds were produced in California this year than in 2017. However, due to a significant lack of rain in California, and what many fear could be the onset of another drought, growers are concerned. Reservoirs are filled, which means a good 2018 crop even despite droughts, but without a good snowpack, the 2019 crop may be bleak.
Future Increases in Demand
The President of the Almond Board of California, Richard Waycott, claims that despite struggles with drought, mudslides, and wildfires across the state, almond production is expected to continue to thrive in the future. Waycott says the industry can produce a pound of almonds with 1/3 less water than it could 20 years ago thanks to new technologies, as well. This means that water shortages won’t necessarily mean almond shortages.
Waycott says the industry should grow by an average of 6% each year for the next five years. Should this prediction hold true, it means that the California almond industry would produce some three billion pounds in 2021 – an increase of 1/3 more almonds than the state produces right now.
About the California Almond Farms
It’s predicted that California will be a smaller agricultural state in future years. Right now, many crops are grown in California, and it’s a vital dairy state, too. However, as almond demand increases so does the need for acreage for almond trees. Per Waycott, three-quarters of all the almond farms in the state are 100 acres or less in size, and they are family owned. This signifies the resurgence of family farming and the attempt to get away from commercialized farming is working – at least in California.
Almond production in California is slated to increase tremendously over the next five years, and as a result, the more agricultural land will likely give way to almond orchards. Even through fires, through floods, and through tremendous droughts, California’s almond industry will continue to thrive according to industry experts.