Contributions of the California Almond Industry to Local, State, National and Global Economies

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Contributions of the California Almond Industry to Local, State, National and Global Economies – Working Draft

California’s tree nut production is the largest in the U.S., supplying virtually all almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. For the first time in 2011, almonds were valued as the top fruit and nut crop in California, but were second to grapes in 2012 with a production value of $4.8 billion. Almond sales account for nearly 69 percent of the nation’s $7 billion tree nut industry with almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pecans making up the majority of sales. In terms of volume and value, California is the world’s largest producer of almonds, producing over 80 percent of the world’s almonds.
In 2012, there were nearly 936,000 acres of almonds in production on 6,841 U.S. almond farms. Of this acreage, 818,000 were bearing and 118,000 nonbearing. On average, the number of almond farms has increased 5.7 percent annually over five years, leading to an increase of 18 percent in total acreage since the 2007 census.

  • Prices

This chapter highlights the economic value of the California almond industry, both to the local economy in terms of production and the global marketplace in terms of trade.

Tree nuts were California’s top agricultural export in 2012, followed by fruit and vegetables. Fruit and nut exports accounted for more than half of the value of all California agricultural exports. Almonds, California’s most valuable individual export commodity, totaled approximately $4.2 billion in 2013, a 23 percent increase from 2012. On average, the volume of California almond exports is 5 times the volume of walnut exports and nearly 12 times the volume of pistachio exports.

Almonds have become notably more valuable to California exports since 1965. The volume of California almond exports today is 65 times the volume of exports in 1965. There has been a steady growth rate, 6.6 percent on average, in almond exports since 1988.

Although almond exports to markets such as the EU-27, Japan, and Canada have stagnated, U.S. almond exports continue to increase. Demand has risen in emerging markets including China, Hong Kong, India, and the United Arab Emirates, causing sustained growth in export volume.

(Stacked bar graph – volume exported per year: 1) EU-27; 2) Emerging Markets- China, Hong Kong, UAE; 3) ROW)
In 2013, California’s top destinations for almond exports were China and Hong Kong, Spain, India, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates.
(Chart – top 15 markets, growth change over time)
Almonds, walnuts, and pecans are the most preferred tree nuts among U.S. consumers.

  • Consumption of almonds compared to other tree nuts (per capita) – average?

  • Consumption of almonds in U.S. compared to other countries

  • Almond form most popularly consumed

  • Different uses and varieties of almonds


The 2014 almond crop was planted during California’s warmest winter on record, causing one of the earliest blooms in early February. Harvest season for almonds is August 1 through October 31, but each tree is currently averaging 6,646 nuts, a 0.6% decrease from the 2013 crop. Almond production for 2014 is forecast at 2.1 billion meat pounds, an increase of 4.5 percent from last year’s crop. This forecast is based on an estimated 860,000 bearing acreage.
mac:users:clmuser:desktop:ca almond yield per acre.png
California almond production is largely concentrated in Fresno, Kern, Stanislaus, and Merced counties in the San Joaquin Valley, accounting for 64 percent of statewide almond bearing acreage in 2011. Bearing acreage in California has increased an average of 21,000 acres each year since 1995.
The average kernel weight for all varieties was 1.45 grams, up 6.6 percent from the 2013 record low average of 1.36 grams.

Spain was the world’s largest producer of almonds until 1987 when increased almond acreage in the U.S. caused U.S. production to bypass that of Spain. California almond production was five times greater than Spain on average from 2006-2010, but California almond acreage was only half the acreage of Spain. Over that time period, California yield was nearly 11 times that of Spain. In terms of almond yield, California ranked fourth highest globally with an average of 1,600 pounds of shelled almonds per acre. The United Arab Emirates, from 2006-2010, was the global leader, yielding 8,400 pounds per acre. Jordan averaged 1,900 pounds per acre and Lebanon averaged 1,800 pounds. Whereas the U.S. cultivated an average of 683,000 acres of almonds, the acreage of the three higher-yielding countries combined was only 16,000 acres. Why do other countries (especially UAE) have higher yields per acre? They are dryer countries, so do they have higher tree volume per acre, less chemical, fertilizer, tree density regulation, etc.? Spain’s almond acreage is the largest in the world, averaging 1.4 million acres between 2006 and 2010, yet yield per acre is lower than average. This is due to fewer technological inputs implemented, which has resulted in smaller-scale production and growers often reliant upon family labor.

  • yield per acre analysis: comparison with other countries

  • (need input data)

  • analyses: returns to inputs (labor, water, etc.)

  • Increase in bearing acreage over time – why?

  • Denser tree plantings (from 84.5 trees per acre in 1986 to 111 trees per acre in 2011). Why? Is there policy in place to regulate this?

Almond Nutrition?
Almond consumption in the U.S. has increased largely in part due to more widespread consideration of the commodity’s nutritional value. Almonds are nutrient-dense, meaning they have high quantities of vitamins and minerals in relation to the number of calories per serving.
Policies Regulating Almond Industry?
Inputs: fertilizer, chemicals, water, land

Tree density per acre

Technological Advancement and the Future of Almonds?



Newer almond variety plantings for better pollination = larger crops

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