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Almond Conference Keynote Speaker, Dan On, Determined to Grow Almond Market


Dan-D Group Global CEO Dan On discuss his life story, the drive to succeed in a nut industry and the opportunities available for almonds.

Overcoming the odds is an understatement for the story of Dan On, global CEO of Dan-D Group and Thursday’s keynote speaker of The Almond Conference 2021. On described his upbringing in Saigon during the Vietnam war, where he lived in turmoil. At age 15, On quit school to sell sandals on the streets of his hometown, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. His father worked multiple jobs to feed a family of seven who lived in one bedroom of a small two-story home. At age 18, On courageously left Vietnam on a 16-foot wooden boat. Just days later, the boat and its passengers were attacked by Thai pirates before being rescued. On ended up in a Malaysian refugee camp and was later brought to Canada by the Hope Lutheran Church.

While in Canada, On was adopted by George and Irene Kavanagh and worked for the family business of selling granola. When that did not prove successful, George and On started to sell the granola ingredients separately, which proved to be a smart business decision, and the two ended up traveling to Asia to source the nuts and grains. George later sold his company and because of their travels back to his home country, On saw an opportunity to spark growth in Vietnam and thrive in an untapped market – cashews. At the time, the cashew market in Vietnam was wide open and full of potential in On’s eyes.

In 1989, On started Dan-D Foods and is now the Global CEO of Dan-D Group – an importer, manufacturer, and distributor of cashews and other tree nuts, nut butters, dried fruits, snack foods and spices from around the world with approximately 1,000 employees in Canada, Vietnam, Thailand, United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, with headquarters in Richmond, British Columbia. On attributes his success to his work ethic, his goal of helping his home country and his management style. He described his facilities as an amazing home away from home, equipped with a pool, gym, and everything that an employee could ever need. He even recalls helping his employees quarantine in the building during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their safety. On notes that he places great importance on the lifestyle of his employees and says that they “take home what equals about $1,000 USD a month,” which he states is significant compared to the average monthly income in Vietnam. This philanthropic mindset, along with his knowledge of the industry, has helped him become the leader of the global cashew market.

On still sees a bright future for nuts in the Asian market and presented his positive outlook for almonds, specifically. He described a market full of opportunity and growth and explains that many consumers in Asian markets consider almonds grown in the United States as “safe.” He noted that the U.S. market is far more regulated than Asian markets and therefore, nuts grown here are highly desired because of those standards. Consumers in Asian markets are concerned with quality and attribute great quality to U.S. products.

On also broke down the consumer habits by region in Asia, depicting China as snackers of mixed nuts and roasted almonds and Japan as lovers of chocolate-covered almonds. He noted that highlighting the different components that make up the Asian market shows that there is room for everyone in the industry to carve their own path. On’s inspiring story gave attendees hope for expansion and echoes the idea that the current obstacles that face the almond industry are just a bump in the road on the path to a successful future.

A full recording of On’s presentation will be made available on the Almond Board of California’s YouTube channel in January 2022.