Independent Research Provides Cutting-Edge Scientific Information

Posted September 17th, 2015

Almond Board of California’s longstanding commitment to funding independent research is an important part of our responsibility to growers and consumers.  We fund research in a number of areas, including almond production, environmental stewardship, almond quality and safety, and health/nutrition.

This objective, third-party research conducted by respected universities and other institutions fuels knowledge in the larger scientific community, brings value to our industry, improves understanding of our own product and delivers key information to consumers. It also provides facts that counter unfounded misinformation.

Some critics contend that industry-funded research is less valid than independently funded research. We disagree, and here’s why.  

  1. The purpose of the Almond Board is “to educate, research, innovate and promote” California Almonds.  We are beholden to consumers, to the federal government and to the industry to know our product. In short, it’s our responsibility to be the experts on almonds, and that requires research.
  2. The Almond Board of California is a Federal Marketing Order administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Therefore, our messaging about research and any other external messaging  is USDA reviewed to ensure accuracy and compliance with FDA and FTC regulations.
  3. It is in our best interest to select the highest quality research proposals, which in-turn produces high quality information that helps us improve production methods, increase efficiency and better understand almonds. Particularly in the realm of nutrition, funding high-quality research with respected, established universities or research facilities increases our chances of publication in respected, peer-reviewed journals. We take great pride in the caliber and strength of our nutrition research and in the consistent results we’ve seen over the past two decades.

Our investment in almond production research helps growers produce their crop using the most efficient, sustainable and environmentally responsible practices available.1 Through this research, growers continue to make groundbreaking advancements in irrigation technology, honey bee health protection, planting and production methods, pest management, environmental safety and sustainability.

In fact, such investments are responsible for the information and new technology that helped growers reduce the amount of water needed to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent over the past 20 years.2 In addition, a recently published study by UC Davis researchers on the almond orchard life cycle has set the stage for our industry to become carbon neutral or carbon negative, which is significant in California’s fight to reduce greenhouse gases.3

Through our nutrition research program, we’ve also come to understand some of the health benefits of almonds and why they are such a perfect fit for today’s health-minded, on-the-go consumer. It is well-known that almonds are a heart-healthy snack that can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.4 Beyond this, we have also worked with reputable researchers at top universities to investigate almonds’ role in satiety, weight management and other important health concerns such as diabetes.

We are proud – and always disclose – that the more than $50 million in research conducted over several decades is industry-funded.  When the issue of industry-funded research comes up, we’re always eager to discuss our own research program – how much we’ve learned, and the many questions we still have ahead of us that we’re eager to explore and find answers to. Yes -- we’re passionate about almonds, and we can’t imagine anyone being more passionate about almond research than we are.

 


1 California Almond Sustainability Program definition: Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product.

2 UC Drought Management – Historical Almond ET, see and Goldhamer, David. 2012. Almond in Group Yield Response to Water. FAO irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 65, P. Steduto, T.C. Hsiao, E. Fereres, and D. Raes, eds. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, pp. 246-296.

3 Kendall, A., Marvinney, E., Brodt, S. and Zhu, W. (2015), Life Cycle–based Assessment of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Almond Production, Part I: Analytical Framework and Baseline Results. Journal of Industrial Ecology. doi: 10.1111/jiec.12332

4 Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.