Blue Diamond Growers’ fiscal year 2011-12 sales catapulted to a record $1 billion with two-year growth of $300 million driven by demand for value-added almond products, according to President and CEO Mark Jansen, who addressed the cooperative’s grower-owners at their 102nd annual meeting.
“We are winning in the marketplace by executing our superior business model, enhancing margins and growing our value-added businesses,” said Jansen. “We added $13 million in savings to the $14 million we achieved last year, and we will continue to invest in new technologies that will lower costs and increase processing yields for higher levels of profitability year after year.”
That’s good news for Blue Diamond growers, according to Chairman of the Board Clinton Shick, who also told growers at their meeting that they received record payments on the 2011 crop of $670 million for a return that was 18 cents per pound higher than on the 2010 crop. “Revenue per acre also exceeded the previous 2005 record by 19 percent,” said Shick.
Blue Diamond will open phase 1 of its new 88-acre Turlock plant in May 2013 and hire up to 100 employees. This will bring incremental capacity to the organization, which already has the world’s largest existing almond processing facilities in Sacramento and Salida.
“Our balance sheet is investment grade which allowed us to finance our new plant over the next 15 years at a record low rate that will earn growers who deliver to Blue Diamond several cents more on their 2013 annual returns and for many years to come. We have the opportunity to invest even more aggressively to create long-term value for our owners,” said Jansen, who asked growers to share his confidence that “Blue Diamond is one of the highest returning and safest investments.”
Adding processing capabilities to Blue Diamond’s existing operations is part of a plan to expand its brand globally, Jansen told growers. This is a strategy that is already paying off as the cooperative’s global value-added ingredient business leaped 69 percent over the last two years and global consumer-branded businesses increased 45 percent.
A new North American advertising campaign designed to inspire a healthy lifestyle among consumers, was launched during the 2012 London Olympic Games in a call to action to “Get Your Good Going.” Blue Diamond snack almond sales jumped 21 percent during the fiscal year ending August 31, but sales during the Olympic Games alone leaped 43 percent!
The opening of Blue Diamond’s Almond Innovation Center at its Sacramento headquarters in early 2013 will increase the speed of innovation and lower the cost of creating new products. Experts will be working with the world’s largest food companies to include almonds in their new product formulations. Again, Jansen reiterated the importance of investing in Blue Diamond innovation, saying “when you invest in something good, it only gets better.”