Effect on almond prices still unknown

Significant damage caused by fire in Blue Diamond plant Sacramento

Officials at Blue Diamond Growers are still assessing the damage done to the cooperative’s Sacramento manufacturing facility after a four-alarm blaze there late Monday. In a brief statement Tuesday, Blue Diamond said it is investigating what ignited the blaze and is focused on learning more about the incident and providing support to our employees.

More than 100 firefighters fought the blaze. Relief came from Sacramento Metro Fire, the Cosumnes Fire Protection District in neighboring Elk Grove, West Sacramento and other outside agencies.

Blue Diamond officials Tuesday said it was too early to speculate on the fire’s impact on a critically important California industry. Officials at the Almond Board of California, which represents more than 6,500 growers across the state, deferred to the co-op.

The coming days will likely provide economists a clearer picture on whether the fire will have an effect on the almond industry and the prices paid by consumers. But the industry pegged by UC Davis economists at $21.5 billion is a crucial economic engine employing thousands of workers and accounting for a full quarter of the state’s farm exports.

Whatever the damage to Blue Diamond’s Sacramento operations, the impact is certain to be felt, said agricultural economist Daniel A. Sumner, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis.

Sacbee.com quoted him as saying: “Blue Diamond is significant in the almond industry. It’s a very recognized name. It’s not only emblematic of the industry, but it’s an important share of the industry. To the extent that almonds were lost, it’s a terrible loss.”

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