2020 was a year of historic proportions. The global pandemic created significant issues in both international trade and logistics, as well as in consumer buying patterns. After last spring’s dramatic price correction, pricing has remained relatively consistent through the fall season, with rallying points occurring as customers respond to the strong consumption in markets throughout the world.
Industry commitments and shipments are maintaining very strong levels, with shipments at the end of December running 22 percent year-to-date above the same point last year. Commitments are also running at record levels, with over 2.2 billion pounds (1.3 billion pounds shipped plus 900 million not yet shipped) of sales committed at the end of December. While there is still much work to be done in selling and marketing the 2020 crop, demand in the first five months of the 2020–2021 marketing campaign could not have started any stronger.
Blue Diamond was prepared to receive and process this record crop by investing in infrastructure, training, equipment, talent, and new marketplaces to sell our almonds. We are also investing in innovation and believe that we can successfully compete in the marketplace by continuing to develop great products and communicating our unique brand benefits in relevant and inspiring ways. Our focus on building new advertising and market channels, and the quality of our industry-leading Blue Diamond snack almonds, Almond Breeze® almondmilk and Nut-Thins® cracker brands will help deliver sustained healthy growth for our growers, customers and team members.
The Blue Diamond team has worked continuously through the pandemic to receive, process, market and ship the record supply we will handle this year. As a co-op we invested significantly in PPE, materials and processes, such as mandatory temperature checks, needed to keep our workforce healthy and our production lines running. I’m most proud of our team members’ commitment to Blue Diamond in securing the safe and successful processing and marketing of your almonds. Whether working on-site at our three campuses or from their homes, the Blue Diamond team remains dedicated to you, our grower-owners, and to delivering the benefits of almonds to the world.
Given current market prices, the Blue Diamond team understands that every penny of competitive return is important. We continuously reevaluate the return on investments against our grower-owners business and challenge every team member to treat every expense with the knowledge that this is truly a family business for our 3,000 growers. One opportunity for our grower-owners to enhance their personal return is to participate in the CASP program. This collectively benefits the co-op and allows growers to capture every revenue opportunity for their crop.
The industry focus is now on bloom. No matter what Mother Nature holds in store for us this year, Blue Diamond growers have shown remarkable resilience in delivering bountiful crops. I wish all of you a successful and prosperous New Year. The Best is Yet to Come!