almond growers

The Value of the California Almond Industry – Part 2

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The California almond industry is doing very well as a leading crop desired by consumers around the world, and growers are doing a tremendous job in growing the crop efficiently. This is Part 2 of a multipart series on the value of the California almond industry.

Buddy Ketchner runs a consulting firm called Brand K Strategies, and he works closely with the almond industry. He said that a cornerstone of industry is the fact that about 78 percent of the almond growers farm almonds under drip or micro sprinklers.

“That’s why we have the fact now that we’re using 33 percent less water than we were 20 years ago. I think that investment and that commitment to continual innovation is one of the reasons the industry’s done well. Now, all food takes resources, all food takes water, all food takes energy to grow,” Ketchner said. “I think what the almond industry has done well, and needs to continue doing, is to make sure that we’re doing it in the most effective, the most efficient, the most productive way. Not just for our growers but for the Earth and for the planet, which is what they do.”

The almond industry is committed in saving even more water over the coming years. There is a solid trend going on in the food industry that’s known as plant protein.

“I think one of the things we talk a lot about is the rise of the plants. The notion is that as populations increased, that as the middle classes increased globally, there’s a sense that we need to have protein that comes from plants as well as animals. So, people choose plant-based proteins for a number of different reasons,” Ketchner explained.

“For some of them, it’s because of the environmental story; they believe it’s more sustainable. For some people, it’s a health story; they just think it’s healthier or lighter, or it has some contribution to health that makes it a better choice for them than animal protein,” he said.

“For some people, it’s cost. There are a lot of reasons people pick plant-based protein. And how people are choosing to get their protein. I don’t remember what the latest statistic is. I think it’s like eight percent of the population is vegetarian, but 33 percent of the population regularly chooses vegetarian and plant-based protein options. It’s just how they want to balance their diet,” Ketchner said.

“I just want to make sure I’m clear: All food is good. I think animal protein is great, and plant-based protein is great. Consumers are looking for a balance in their diet, and so lots of reasons why that’s grown, but almonds are certainly part of that trend,” he said.