The Business of Almonds

Posted June 12th, 2015

The extent of the almond industry’s impact on California’s economy is wide-reaching According to the UC Agricultural Issues Center, almonds generate more than 100,000 jobs and add more than $21 billion gross revenue across all industries1, since the jobs generated by the almond industry reach far and beyond the farm and processing plant. Jobs generated in the almond industry range from equipment suppliers to the local businesses where growers spend their income. 

That’s so important to us because we are, above everything else, Californians.  When it comes to the drought, we share the concerns all residents of our state do about water use.  That’s why we’ve worked on water efficiency over the last 20 years, which has resulted in reducing by 33% the amount of water it takes to grow a pound of almonds2. Like everyone else who lives here, we know we have to do our part. 

And when it comes to adding to the state’s economy, we are proud to do our part here as well.  As much as it is a labor of love and family tradition, growing almonds is a business. Consider that:

  • With its ideal Mediterranean climate, California’s Central Valley is one of the only places in the world to effectively grow almonds.
  • Growers here have used research and technology – much of it thanks to research partners such as the University of California– to produce almonds very efficiently. So, California produces more than 80% of the world’s almond supply.
  • Almond trees need about the same water as other fruit and nut trees.
  • Almond trees grow two foods - the nut we love and almond hulls, which are dairy cow feed.  They also grow almond shells, which become livestock bedding and sustainable energy in co-generation power plants.
  • Almonds are a high-value crop.
  • Almonds are highly nutritious.

This all translates to a comparative advantage for California. And that’s exactly why we should be growing almonds in California. Almonds are a crop well worth that water.

As business people, farmers and Californians, almond growers here are proud of what they produce – and proud to be helping California’s economy. We are also proud of the progress we’ve made in using water efficiently, and will continue to improve through ongoing research.

1 University of California Agricultural Issues Center. The Economic Impacts of the California Almond Industry. December 2014.

2 Historical evapotranspiration rates from 1990-1994 UC Davis Drought Management - Historical Almond ET, see: Evapotranspiration rates from 2010 – 2014 updated to new almond crop coefficients: Goldhamer, David. 2012. Almond in Crop Yield Response to Water. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 66, P. Steduto, T.C. Hsiao, E. Fereres, and D. Raes, eds. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, pp. 246:296. Average almond pounds per acre 1990-1994 and 2010-2014: Almond Almanac.