This is a unique year for Blue Diamond, where business as usual is dramatically changing. We are continuously finding new ways to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis.
This past year, apprehensions over tariff issues with China were replaced by world-wide concerns over the impacts of the pandemic. COVID-19 changed almond consumption patterns, market channels (food service and convenience stores) and shut down the Indian market for weeks, and confidence in payments for months. Ultimately, after several strategic pivots, Blue Diamond was able to move the entire crop while achieving a significant competitive return advantage. We remain dedicated to innovation, value-added almond product development and market growth while providing our grower-owners with industry leading returns.
With another record crop, innovation will be the key to our success in the coming year. Our innovation team is working on groundbreaking almond products and experimenting with almond ingredients for entering new categories. Their research and development expertise will open new possibilities and partnerships for Blue Diamond almonds – growing the market to benefit our grower-owners.
We are most thankful that Blue Diamond has been able to remain operational throughout the unique challenges of COVID-19. We avoided the significant outbreaks and shutdowns that have afflicted too many food manufacturers. Blue Diamond’s early adoption of technology and procedures put employee safety first. With significant communication and training we were able to build the trust and confidence that sick employees could make the right decisions to stay home.
The 2020 crop deliveries are consistent with the 3 billion-pound NASS forecast. As you may imagine, prices in the market have been reflecting an abundant supply, dropping by approximately $.70 per pound over the past few months. However, the market has recently strengthened as customers move to take advantage of the attractive values available. Industry commitments are at very strong levels and shipments continue to set records.
With our strong consumer brand, innovation platforms and value-added products sold throughout the world, Blue Diamond is working to maximize the returns of the growers who entrust us with their almonds. As with our summer District Meetings, this year’s Annual Meeting will be held on a virtual platform. I look forward to “seeing” our grower-owners there as we share why the best is yet to come!