Bullish on the Almonds

Bullish on the Almonds

November 20, 2009

Dave Baker Knows the Almond Industry

He’s worked at Blue Diamond for 35 years

When Dave Baker, who is a Blue Diamond Growers, director of member relations first began working for the cooperative in 1974—it was a record crop year with 230 million pounds!
Needless to say, that with his 35-year history with Blue Diamond, production has grown to levels totally unpredictable just a decade ago.
Baker oversees the 99-year-old cooperative’s enormous field department, and handles communications with growers including all grower programs. He and his staff also manage all the outside receiving—regarding trucking and shelling.
With 6.5 to 7 million pounds of almonds moving daily from point A to B and then to C there is a lot to be done to make sure it’s all in the right place.
“I have a staff of wonderful people,” said Baker from his Salida facility office. “At Blue Diamond Growers we have many departments, and solid teamwork goes into everything.”
When he first began at the cooperative he was a field supervisor taking care of growers in Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Merced counties. He then became a field manager which led to his current role.
Baker was born in Sacramento, where his father was a manager of a farm operation producing hops and rice. When he was young, the family relocated to Merced county. He later graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with a geography degree.
With dramatically increase production throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there was always a big question as to how the industry would ever sell the crop. “I wondered it myself, but then dawned on me on how much the world was changing while watching NOVA on PBS television. On the program there was a satellite image of an urban area in Africa. In the 1980s, there was sparse lighting, and then in the late 1990s the same area was brilliant with light,” Baker said.
“And today you look at China and India with middle classes that are greater than population in the U.S,” he noted
He noted that the global almond market is huge and there is a home for California almonds–even for the emerging bearing crops from recent increases in plantings.
“There has been a gradual and steady increase in plantings the last five years. The increased production will meet the growth in consumption worldwide,” said Baker.
He said that the lower price cycles have a lower valley on the graph, so it’s easier for growers to recover. In the 80 and 90s the lower price cycles lasted longer. But today the increased population with the huge increased middle class is consuming a lot of almonds around the world. Needless to say Baker is bullish on the almond consuming future.
Baker and wife Janna recently celebrated their 41st anniversary. They have two children and five grandchildren and live in the Modesto area, where they also farm Walnuts west of Salida near the Stanislaus river.
—-Patrick Cavanaugh

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