There are tough times for the almond industry. Some industry players are asking themselves: Could it partly be because almond growers over-planted?
“It’s typical behavior in farming,” said Brian Ezell, vice president of the almond division of Wonderful Company. “The differences, you’ve got permanent crops that takes a lot of upfront investment, and once you have that upfront investment, you don’t want to exit very quickly. Where in a row crop, you can have years where weather affects it, drops production, prices go up and then the next year, everybody wants to plant more tomatoes or whatever. But then they can jump right back out of it the next year if the price goes back down.”
But Ezell says it’s not so easy with the permanent crops, with that up-front investment. “When you look at the almond’s side, what happened is we had some very high pricing from 2012 through 2015.” This meant that the crop suddenly was extremely profitable. “However, during that period from 2014 to 2020, an average of 102,000 acres was planted every year,” explained Ezell. “The normal is about 36,000 acres. So 186% of normal, year after year for seven years is just not a sustainable thing, especially when you consider a balanced industry in supply and demand, organic demand growth without affecting price is about 6%.”