Blue Diamond Growers is one nutty business. Some 3,000 California almond growers belong to the cooperative, which is a top global player in the tree nut market. The co-op sells almonds and almond products, hazelnuts, macadamia, pistachio, and other nuts to food and candy makers, the food service industry, and retail food stores. Blue Diamond Growers has developed products such as Almond Breeze, an almond-based, lactose-free milk substitute; Nut Thins crackers; and special cuts and flavored varieties of nuts. Blue Diamond, formed in 1910, sells its products throughout the US and in more than 90 other countries. It operates processing plants, receiving stations, and several retail nut stores in California.
Blue Diamond Growers' primary facilities include a pair of processing plants in Sacramento and Salida, California, and a hazelnut division in Salem, Oregon.
Blue Diamond's fiscal 2012 (ends August) sales increased 22% vs. the prior year, to top $1 billion. Net income jumped 27% over the same period to nearly $670 million. Indeed, the company's sales have surged more than 40% over the past three years.
Already the world's largest almond company, Blue Diamond continues to add capacity to meet increasing global demand for its products. In May 2013, the company will double its capacity by opening the first phase of a new, technologically-advanced plant in Turlock, California, designed to create more value-added products for the world market. (Upon completion of the three-phase, 15-year project, the new manufacturing complex at Turlock will measure 500,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity.)
The co-op follows a strategy of offering new high-margin almond products. To that end, Blue Diamond has introduced more than two dozen new consumer and industrial products in recent years. They've included new flavors in its line of oil-roasted almonds for use in the manufacture of snacks and nut and trail mixes. Blue Diamond also launched a line of oven-roasted almonds packaged in "pop-and-pour" plastic bottles. The product is aimed at the consumer concerned with weight management, as well as a convenience snack for busy Americans.
During the recession and as cow's milk has lost market share to alternative milks, Blue Diamond has seized the opportunity to heavily market its almond milk. Indeed, today its Almond Breeze milk appears in more than 90% of US grocery stores and in many cases Americans are paying premium prices for almond milk as more consumers make the changeover for dietary or taste reasons. To this end, Almond Breeze continues to jockey for position with Silk Pure Almond milk, produced by Dean Foods.