As another severe drought wreaks havoc in California, some farmers are pulling back from one of their most profitable crops – almonds.
For years, nuts have been one of California’s flagship crops, exported in bulk and used in food products in all supermarkets. Now farmers in the state’s arid regions are bulldozing thousands of acres of almond orchards that cannot be irrigated and abandoning plans to plant more as they face what farmers say could be a hotter, drier future.
The drought, which began last year, has spread across much of the western United States. Combined with the impending restrictions on the use of groundwater, this prompts the calculation of California’s $ 6 billion almond industry, which grows by around 80% of the world’s supply. The situation is reshaping the state’s food sector, forcing farmers to reassess which crops they will have water to produce and where. It’s also a challenge for food business executives tasked with keeping grocery store shelves stocked when reservoirs or wells run dry.
Mark Jansen, Managing Director of Blue Diamond Growers, said: “We anticipate the end of unconstrained growth in the almond supply.”
The Sacramento-based almond giant has helped propel California almonds into pantries nationwide through snack bars, flour, and its milk alternative Almond Breeze. But keeping Blue Diamond and other almond processors stocked with nuts means tough decisions for farmers who are short of water this year.