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Record sales of $1.5 billion yields record grower return

Blue Diamond Growers' global almond sales soared to $1.5 billion, up $300 million in fiscal year 2013-14, paying record dividends of $1 billion to the cooperative's grower-owners, according to President and CEO Mark Jansen who addressed almond growers at their 104th annual meeting.

"The people of Blue Diamond have never worked harder," said Jansen. "The revenue growth and returns are evident," he added. "We continue to build our infrastructure in manufacturing and information technology to support our growth and long-term success. I am amazed how our growers overcame historic drought challenges to deliver this year's crop. In our co-op, it is both our growers and employees who make us successful."

Jansen noted future challenges, most notably, the impact of the drought. Even if California receives normal rain levels this winter, the crop is projected to be light over the next few years. "UC Davis research on water deprivation indicated that it could be three years before we see almond orchards recover," he said.

Margin enhancement projects for Blue Diamond included improved manufacturing yields and faster processing lines, resulting in a four-year compounded savings of $46 million. "Margin enhancements fuel our investments in new facilities, breakthrough advertising, and global markets," Jansen explained.

Energized by enhanced advertising investments and new products, sales thrived in North America where the branded consumer business leaped to a +$500 million brand in U.S. retail across the snack nuts, crackers and almond milk categories. Over 17 new products emerged, including a first of its kind new Honey-flavoured product line that includes Snack Nuts, Nut*Thins and Almond Breeze.

International expansion of Almond Breeze and Snack Almonds achieved 60 percent growth over the prior marketing year. Ten new international product introductions included Ketchup almonds in the United Kingdom and Banana Almond Breeze in Japan! By achieving first to market status and delivering on taste, Blue Diamond is the almond milk market leader in Japan and is working to expand its foothold in Asia and Europe.

The cooperative's newest Turlock Plant was named 2014 Plant of the Year by Food Engineering magazine, a testament to Blue Diamond's ability to leverage value-added product capabilities. The enhanced capacity in Turlock enabled the Blue Diamond Global Ingredients manufacturing business to increase 105 percent in four years.

"We are a stronger company than we were five years ago, making this the third consecutive year of returning record revenue per acre to Blue Diamond growers!" said Chairman of the Board Clinton Shick, a grower from McFarland. "We can all be proud of taking a strategic direction that continues to build strength in the Blue Diamond cooperative for generations to come."

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