Almonds

Updated August 2015 by Christina Romero, AgMRC, California Polytechnic University.

Overview                                                

California is the only state that produces almonds commercially. The 2014 almond crop totaled 2.15 billion pounds valued at $6.4 billion. (NASS)
Per person consumption of almonds in the United States has generally been increasing and reached 2.0 pounds in 2014. (ABC)

Internationally, the United States remains the largest producer of almonds, harvesting 80 percent of the world's crop, followed by the European Union. California is the largest producer in the United States. (ABC)

Production

Encased in a tough, leathery hull and an inner, protective hard shell, almonds are mechanically shaken from the tree during the fall harvest and sent to handlers to be processed and marketed as a final product.

In 2014, there were more than 6,000 growers, and 100 processors/handlers shipped 1.6 billion pounds of almonds, a 13 percent increase from the previous year (ABC).

Value-added Products

In the United States, the majority of almonds are consumed as ingredients in manufactured goods, including cereal and granola bars; the remainder are consumed as snacks, in in-home baking and at food service outlets.

The expanding consumer palate for international cuisines that use almonds and a growing Middle Eastern population may also help increase.

In addition, nut flours are expanding as an alternative to regular wheat flours in the gluten-free market.  The non-dairy alternative market of almond milk is expanding, offering a low-fat, high-protein option for consumers.

New branded products and new uses of almonds in cereals, ice cream, confectionaries and baked goods have been introduced.

Another new use for almonds is processing the not-yet-ripe kernels of green almonds. They are harvested early, and the liquid kernels are used by chefs at gourmet restaurants to add a delicate taste to high-end dishes.

Almonds are either sold as in-shell or as processed, which can include shelling, dry roasting, blanching, slicing, and chopped and converted into paste (marzipan) or flavorings. The majority of almonds are shelled during processing, and the excess casings (the hull and shell) are used in the livestock industry for both feed and bedding material.

Exports/Imports

The United States is the dominant supplier of almonds. In 2014, the country exported about 1.3 billion pounds of almonds, which were valued at $4.5 billion. (ABC)

Approximately 70 percent of U.S. almonds are exported as shelled almonds, with the remainder being either unshelled or manufactured.  (FAS)

The top exporting countries are Spain, China/Hong Kong, Germany, India, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Turkey, and the Netherlands. (ABC)

The United States imported 39.4 million tons of almonds in 2014. Most imported almonds come from Spain. (ABC)

Sources

Almond Almanac, Almond Board of California (ABC), 2014 - This annual publication summarizes the production statistics of the California almond industry.
Almonds, Tree Nuts: World Markets & Trade, Foreign Ag Service (FAS), USDA, October 2012.
Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA.

 
Prepared September 2005 and revised August 2015.