Business & Real Estate

Blue Diamond sets revenue record amid year of declining almond prices

Julia Beltram loads up large bottles of Smoke House almonds off the conveyor belt at Blue Diamond Almonds in Sacramento. Nov. 30, 2011.
Julia Beltram loads up large bottles of Smoke House almonds off the conveyor belt at Blue Diamond Almonds in Sacramento. Nov. 30, 2011. Sacramento Bee file

Even amid falling almond prices, Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers managed to squeeze another record revenue year.

Blue Diamond spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell confirmed this week that global almond sales revenue totaled an all-time high of $1.67 billion for the crop year ending in August, just edging $1.65 billion amassed the previous year.

It was the fifth consecutive year that revenue topped $1 billion for the co-op’s fiscal year. All were records.

In previous years, Blue Diamond grower-owners benefited from a sustained boom in almond prices, plus strong worldwide demand as almonds became entrenched as California’s leading agriculture export.

However, that pace slowed in the most recent year.

The almond market surged to near $5 a pound in August 2015, but slipped to around $2.60 a pound by the start of this year. The market bottomed out in February and has since stabilized. California’s prolonged drought also had an impact on almond growers.

Ag analysts cited the cooperative’s aggressive product diversification and international marketing efforts to bolster revenue, including a TV advertising blitz and digital media campaigns during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this year. Blue Diamond also aired TV commercials during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Just this week, it was announced that Blue Diamond is extending its Olympic sponsorship of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association for four more years.

The extension means Blue Diamond will remain the association’s sponsor through 2020, including the run-up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Blue Diamond began its relationship with the association in 2014, when it was the “official snack nut” of the U.S. ski and snowboard teams at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Blue Diamond and the Sacramento Kings have their own sponsorship deal. The almond cooperative agreed in October to become the team’s uniform sponsor as part of a three-year NBA experiment. Blue Diamond is paying the Kings a reported $5 million a year, starting next season, to have Kings players wear small patches with the company’s logo on their jerseys.

Blue Diamond employs about 900 locally.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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