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Almond Board Investment in Global Market Research
Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) foundational principle of investing in research applies to global market development programs as well as to enhancing production. The Global Market Development Committee conducts discussions and makes investment decisions informed and guided by the data generated from global market research. Global market research enables ABC to ensure that its market growth strategies are correctly positioned, that specific product categories in priority markets are as relevant as possible, and that ABC is employing the right resources in the right proportions. Growth Potential The Global Market Development Analysis (GMDA) report completed by Deloitte Consulting in 2011 has since served as the guiding foundation for the global market selection and prioritization of investments. This report allowed the industry to take an objective look at the growth potential for almonds in all key markets with strategic economic indicators that are updated annually. While the GMDA report is the foundation of global market analysis perspective, ABC has continued to invest in research at both global levels and specific to particular regional markets: U.S., Canada, France, Germany, U.K., China, India and South Korea. Health + Snacks Annual market research is critical for assessing program performance in driving consumer awareness of and positive associations with California Almonds. ABC strives for continuing improvement and being relevant to consumers in their changing lifestyle and health aspirations. One tool that helps ABC accomplish this is the Global Consumer Perceptions Survey, which focuses on changes in consumer attitudes and usage of almonds in all key regions for California Almonds. In particular, two of the most significant measures the Almond Board can track for understanding consumer value perceptions come from this global report: continued consumption of almonds as a snack and awareness of the healthfulness of almonds. A key ingredient for the success of global market development has been strategic insights through research investments. If you would like to request available market research, please contact Stacey Humble, VP, Global Marketing, or Carissa Sauer, manager, Industry Communications.
Farm to Classroom: Bringing California Almonds to Local Schools
The lights dim, a hush falls over the classroom at Our Lady of Fatima school, and giggles erupt from a sea of third graders as a delightful little bee appears on the screen at the front of the room and asks ‘Auntie Bee’ to tell him a story. Auntie Bee, the narrator of An Almond Story, then takes the young students — and the little bee — on an adventure through the almond growing season. Once the video ends, hands shoot up and every student has a question or comment about Auntie Bee’s story. Excited learners listen as Rebecca Bailey, Almond Board of California (ABC) program coordinator of Industry Relations, explains that after this harvest season almond trees go dormant in the winter, kind of like a hibernating bear. Kimi Phippen, 2017 Industry Relations summer intern, shares the final stages of almond processing with elementary students. While these third-graders are having fun, they’re also making an important connection by learning how almonds are grown and then travel from the orchard to their lunch boxes. Through ABC’s Ag in the Classroom program, which is an extension of the California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom, students participate in a hands-on, five-lesson unit that talks about all things almonds, from nutrition facts to almond processing and even uses for almond coproducts. In addition to the classroom experience, lesson plans coincide with the An Almond Story video and activity book, which gives students the opportunity to explore the global journey of California almonds through a visual experience. “The Ag in the Classroom program allows students to develop a deeper appreciation for where their food comes from and the farmers and processors who care for it along the way,” said Jenny Nicolau, manager of Industry Relations at the Almond Board. With students heading back to school, now is the perfect time to request this program be brought to your local school. If you’re interested in ABC’s Ag in the Classroom, please contact Rebecca Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Additionally, copies of the activity book and lesson plans are available free of charge. Bring Auntie Bee and Ag in the Classroom to your school and give kids the chance to cultivate an appreciation for the agricultural community they live in and, of course, to go nuts for almonds. Nicolau shared the California almond story with eager third graders at last years’ San Joaquin County AgVenture day in Manteca.
Pesticide Resistance Course Earns Two CEUs
A new online course developed by the UC IPM Program gives licensed applicators and pest control advisers tools to recognize and manage pesticide resistance among fungi, insects and weeds. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive two “Other” continuing-education units from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The course is available online.
Protecting Pollinators: Eight Tips for Pesticide Use at Bloom
ABC’s revised Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) include steps you should take to protect honey bee health if a pesticide application is necessary during bloom. Bloom and bees. The symbiotic relationship is essential to our industry and requires a careful balance between managing yield-robbing diseases, insects and weeds while protecting honey bees from potentially harmful pest control materials. Enter the Almond Board of California (ABC)’s Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California almonds. ABC recently refreshed the BMPs, which were first released in 2014, and incorporated new tips and resources that growers and other stakeholders can use to protect honey bees and plan for a productive pollination. One key aspect of maintaining honey bee health is only applying pesticides during bloom if they are absolutely necessary. Here are eight useful tips to keep in mind as you consider your spray schedule: Communication about pest control decisions should occur between all pollination stakeholders. These stakeholders, as illustrated in the Communication Chain in the “Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds,” can include the beekeeper, county agricultural commissioner, grower, pest control advisor (PCA) and pesticide applicator. Contact beekeepers 48 hours before pesticide application. The responsible individual (i.e., applicator) should notify contracted beekeepers and any beekeepers within 1 mile of the application site. That individual should also use electronic crop management programs, or contact their local county agricultural commissioner directly, to locate hives within a 1-mile radius of the spray site. This advanced warning is mandatory for products with “toxic to bees” on the label statement and recommended for all other applications, particularly during bloom. Avoid applying insecticides during bloom. Insecticides can impact bee adults and brood (young developing bees in the hive). The one exception for application is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), for which the safety of adult and immature bees is documented. If treatment is necessary, only apply fungicides and avoid tank mixing insecticides with fungicides. Any fungicide application deemed necessary during bloom should occur in the late afternoon or evening, when bees and pollen are not present. This timing avoids contaminating pollen with spray materials. Also, be cautious about adjuvants. The University of California recommends adjuvants should not be used with fungicides during bloom unless stated on the label. Provide clean water for the bees to drink to ensure they spend more time pollinating the crop than searching for water. Beekeepers and growers should decide who will provide clean water, a practice that includes covering or removing water sources for bees before a pest control treatment or emptying and refilling water after a treatment is made. The responsible individual should also check water levels throughout bloom and refresh as necessary. Do not directly spray hives with any pesticide application. Ensure that the spray-rig driver turns off nozzles when near hives. If a spray application comes in contact with bee hives, it could adversely affect bee health and overall pollination of the crop. Do not hit flying bees with any spray application materials. Bees that come in contact with agricultural sprays will not be able to fly due to the weight of spray droplets on their wings. Report suspected pesticide-related honey bee incidents to the county agricultural commissioner’s office as soon as possible. Bee health concerns cannot be addressed without the data from these incidents. When reporting, include notes describing the previous health of the colony, prevailing wind, EPA registration number from the suspected pesticide label, name of the suspected pesticide and how the bees may have been exposed to the pesticide. The Almond Board’s Honey Bee BMPs were developed with input from the almond community, beekeepers, researchers, UC Davis, California and U.S. regulators, and chemical registrants. Download the full guide, as well as the Honey Bee BMP Quick Guide and Honey Bee BMP Quick Guide for Applicators, here.
Training Available for Workers Impacted by Drought
The California Drought Employment Training Program is offering training to those affected by drought. Twelve programs are available for workers, employers and students negatively impacted by drought in California. Each program requires about 250 hours for completion. These programs are available through Spring 2016. More information is available online.
ALP Special Project Brings Industry to Life in Print
Each year, Almond Board of California (ABC) Almond Leadership Program participants work on a special project that they present before their classmates and the ABC Board of Directors at the end of the year-long program. The purpose of the project is to challenge participants to take a deep dive into a topic that interests them, to try a new technology or innovative practice on their operation, or, in the case of participant Falastine Munoz, to explore a new or novel idea that betters the industry or community. First graders at Cunningham Elementary listen intently as Munoz begins to explain almond production and processing. For her special project, Munoz published a children’s book titled “Almonds — Shake, Sweep & Eat.” The story walks young minds through almond production and processing, from bloom time to the final stages of packaging. It’s also a true story: Munoz wrote this book, in part, because her children didn’t know much about the industry or her work at Grizzly Nut, LLC in Waterford. The book is available for purchase on Amazon, and Munoz has been holding book readings at local schools, including Cunningham Elementary, Gratton Elementary and Whitmore Charter. ABC sat down with Munoz to learn more about her inspiration for the book, the book’s reception and her experience in the Almond Leadership Program. ABC: Before taking on this special project, you had never written a book before — how did you know where to start? Munoz: I knew that creating the plot would be the easiest part considering I was telling my own story. When I told people my idea for the book, they instantly started giving me suggestions and places to look for help and guidance. The community of people around me has contributed largely to every part of this book’s success. ABC: Tell us more about that community of people: Who have you received support from, and what does that support mean to you? Munoz: Support has come in great abundance. My fellow leadership participants have been so encouraging and motivating. Their own accomplishments with their special projects have empowered me to continue promoting the book and sharing the California almond story with our Valley’s youth. Also, Grizzly Nut has been a huge backer of the book and has been trying to promote it in multiple ways. And when I first decided to write the book, my Leadership mentor Mike Curry was always available to brainstorm ideas and provide suggestions of people to talk with. He even helped proofread the book! ABC: Your first book reading was at Cunningham Elementary in Turlock. Were you nervous at all? Munoz: Extremely! Once I got to the last classroom, I finally felt more comfortable. Now, after doing a couple more reading at elementary schools, I feel relaxed and excited. ABC: What was your favorite student response to your book? Munoz: One kid said, “It’s a short book, but lots of information! Good job!” Everyone laughed — you never know what kids are going to say. But in all seriousness I didn’t anticipate how touching their feedback would be and how excited they would get about the book. ABC: This book is also available on Amazon. How many books have you sold, so far? Munoz: I’ve sold about 400 copies. I’m also reaching out to industry partners to see if they’re interested in buying the book for their schools and own children. I am also working on getting the book incorporated in Ag in the Classroom curriculum and summer reading programs. ABC: What is your favorite page in the book? Munoz: The cover! I love the picture of blossoms, the bees and my whole family. My kids felt like celebrities when the book came out and couldn’t wait to share it with their classes. Munoz said the Almond Leadership Program has helped her grow in her career, and she looks forward to serving on an Almond Board committee once she’s completed the program in December. You can purchase “Almonds – Shake, Sweep & Eat” on Amazon today! To learn more about Munoz’s special project, check out this article from the Turlock Journal. And, to learn more about the Almond Leadership Program, visit Almonds.com/LeadershipProgram. Munoz stands with Staack (above) and Curry (below) during her book reading at Cunningham Elementary. Grizzly Nut donated one copy of the book to each student in the five classrooms that Munoz read to. (Photo courtesy of Mike Curry)
Almond Growers Tackle Drought Side-Effect — Increased Harvest Dust
Given almond industry growth and limited soil moisture due to the ongoing drought, harvest activities are likely to kick up more dust than usual. In an effort to reduce those impacts, Almond Board of California recently hosted a half-day workshop in Modesto to share the latest dust reduction research and techniques, air quality regulations and funding opportunities. The event featured experts from UC Davis, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Almond Board. In addition, representatives from almond harvest equipment manufacturers Exact Corp. and Flory Industries showcased new technology and innovations related to dust reduction. Key information and recommendations shared at the workshop included the following: While harvest is a busy time of year, balancing the need to pick up the crop with impact on neighbors is an important goal. Growers and orchard managers who maintain a clean, smooth, orchard floor will decrease dust generated during harvest. For those carrying out harvest activities, adjustments can be made to equipment (optimum sweeper head height), route (minimizing the number of sweeper passes), blowing inward only near orchard edges, and harvester speed, which all reduce air quality impacts. While there are no specific regulations on harvest dust, the local air quality agency may be alerted if harvest activities bother those who work, live, play and drive nearby. In this situation, the agency works with growers to find local resolutions. Cost-share opportunities for equipment upgrades, as well as other practices that promote air quality, are available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). While many of the practices described above are ways to reduce harvest dust with existing equipment, innovative technologies have been integrated into new harvest equipment making these machines optimal tools for reducing dust at harvest. For those who were not able to attend the workshop, the Almond Board has released new research-based guidelines, Managing Dust at Harvest, which features strategies to minimize harvest impacts. The guide is available in English and Spanish, and available for download Almonds.com/HarvestDust. Additionally, a Harvest Dust Tool Kit is available to almond growers, equipment operators, custom harvesters and the like. This kit was developed to give those involved with harvest quick tools and reminders about four easy steps for reducing harvest dust. Along with a durable guide outlining the four steps, the kit contains window cling reminders for vehicles and/or equipment, as well as a keychain ruler designed for measuring optimal sweeper head height. To request copies of this kit, contact Rebecca Bailey. The Almond Board’s Dr. Gabriele Ludwig, director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, encouraged growers and those involved in harvest to consider this important issue. “Commitment to being good neighbors starts in each field and means thinking outside the orchard — during harvest and beyond," she said. Small changes in harvest practices add up to big improvements in dust reduction across the growing region, and, with the tools described above, each member of the California Almond industry can do their part.
BeeWhere Program Unveils New Mobile BeeCheck App
Everyone involved in almond production appreciates the importance of honey bees. During almond bloom, 60% of the nation’s honey bees are imported to California to pollinate the crop. The last thing any grower, Pest Control Adviser (PCA) or hive owner wants is for those critical bees to be endangered by any pest control application. Enter the BeeWhere program, formed in 2017 by a coalition of stakeholders, led by the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) and County Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA). BeeWhere streamlines communication between beekeepers, PCAs, growers and pesticide applicators using modern technology. It employs web-based mapping tools that allow all parties to identify any hives within a mile of where a crop management pesticide is being applied. And beginning this month, a new mobile app will make tracking even easier: Growers and other pollination stakeholders can download the free BeeCheck app at the Google store as well as the Apple store. “BeeWhere is really a way that beekeepers can meet the legal requirement to register their hives and a PCA can know where those hives are before spraying,” said Josette Lewis, director of Agricultural Affairs for the Almond Board of California (ABC), which provides funding for BeeWhere. Before BeeWhere, growers and PCAs would have to drive to their local county ag commissioner’s office to find where hives were located. Today, that information is available on their smart phones or computer tablets with a few keystrokes. “It’s very easy and convenient,” Lewis said. Safeguarding hives is among the Honey Bee Best Management Practices (Honey Bee BMPs) developed by the Almond Board. Growers are encouraged to review the information in the BMPs and apply the necessary practice in their orchards leading up to and during bloom. Lewis said 50% or more of the hives imported to California before the almond bloom will be in the state by the end of fall or early winter. When they arrive, beekeepers are legally obligated to register their hives and then update their location within 72 hours of any move. Registration can be done through the BeeWhere website. At the same site, PCAs and pesticide applicators can quickly access hive locations and contact information for their owners in order to give the required 48-hour notification before any spraying occurs.
Almond Leadership Participants Shadow Industry Professionals to Gain Experience, Insight
An extension of the leadership seminars and special projects each Almond Leadership participant completes is the job shadow experience. Each participant selects one professional within the greater almond community to spend the day with and “walk a mile” in his/her host’s shoes, to gain a greater understanding about a specific career that is outside of the participant’s general experience and knowledge. The experiences of the program’s most recent group of participants ranged from walking orchards with pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers to meeting with Emily Rooney, president of the Agricultural Council of California; learning about marketing and brokering; and working with professionals within the ag credit field. Almond Leadership participant and PCA Krista Frelinger, with Syngenta, shadowed former participant and ABC Nutrition Research Committee member Darren Rigg, who is in sales and trading at Meridian Nut Growers. When asked about her experience, Krista said, “Spending the day with Darren gave me a profound appreciation for the complexity of what it takes to get our crops to their end user. I have only really ever worried about making a quality crop, but the process of getting that crop safely into the hands of a consumer halfway around the world is a truly impressive feat!” Almond grower and leadership participant Taj Samran shadowed Todd Gray, a PCA for Mid Valley Agricultural Services. “This job shadowing was informative and also helpful, because Todd was able to explain to me the toll the drought is taking on the almond trees,” said Taj. “But not only that, as someone who works with growers around the clock, he gave me a perspective on agriculture from the point of view of some of his growers, as well as his own views on agriculture’s state and on farming practices. I enjoyed shadowing Todd because I learned new things and met some new people in the community. Well worth the time!” The Almond Leadership Program is an exciting opportunity for future industry leaders to gain a well-rounded education and explore the different facets of almond production. If you are interested in gaining the knowledge and experience the program offers, applications for the 2016 Almond Leadership Program are available at Almonds.com/AlmondLeadershipProgram.
A Growing Taste for Almonds: Expanding Marketing Activities South of the Border
In 2018, the Almond Board identified Mexico as an emerging market with ripe potential to grow demand for almonds. Since then, ABC has been actively promoting California almonds through advertisements and public relations communications in Mexico, focusing on cost-efficient social media platforms that effectively reach the determined target audience, as well as participating in trade initiatives alongside entities such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Almond Board representatives at the Mexico Cardiology Congress, as shown from left to right: Paulina Alvarez of Porter Novelli Mexico; Dr. Swati Kalgaonkar, ABC; Dr. Rudy Ortiz, UC Merced; Becky Jeffers; ABC. Many market indicators led ABC to select Mexico as a key market for continued investment, one factor being increased shipments. In fiscal year 2018/2019, a record 24 million pounds of California almonds were shipped to Mexico, ranking Mexico as the 15th largest global destination and by far the largest market for almonds among Latin American countries. This was a six-percent increase over prior shipments from previous years. In addition, according to USDA, Mexico is the second-largest export market of agricultural products from the United States, accounting for $19.1 billion in 2018. This market momentum in Mexico appears to be continuing in the current fiscal year, and optimism about further growth is shared by Mexican importers and manufacturers. Agribusiness Trade Mission to Mexico With the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement as a backdrop, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue led a trade mission of more than 100 U.S. industry and government representatives to Mexico City from Nov. 6-8, 2019. Geoffrey Bogart, principal specialist in Global Technical and Regulatory Affairs, attended on behalf of ABC. The Almond Board’s main objective in participating was to get a better sense of the evolving commercial landscape in Mexico, identify upcoming regulatory issues and potential non-tariff barriers, and hone-in on expanding opportunities for California almonds in Mexico. During the mission, attendees received a market briefing from U.S. Embassy senior officials, led by U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau. Attendees then participated in two days of one-on-one meetings organized by Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Mexico. ABC itself held over 20 one-on-one meetings with key importers, regulators, manufacturers, restaurant chains and big-box retailers from throughout the country, including Mexico City, Jalisco, Veracruz, Baja California, Sinaloa and Nuevo Leon. Finally, participants had the opportunity to attend a reception at the Mexico Embassy and an NFL/USDA Tail Gate event. This event, held in Mexico City, was designed to promote U.S. foods in Mexico and acted as a “warm-up” for the NFL regular-season game played on Nov. 18 at Aztec Stadium. Key takeaways from the mission include the following: Mexican importers see the market growing and are very optimistic about California almonds’ future. Stakeholders are eagerly awaiting the “all clear” signal in regards to the ratification of the USMCA agreement. Several companies mentioned the growing confectionery opportunities and need for almonds as an ingredient. The Mexican Congress has approved a new front-of-the-pack labeling law that will require foods with high sodium or sugar content to place a warning label on the front. Cargo theft of almonds trucked in from the U.S. is a regular problem faced by importers and buyers in Mexico. California Almonds Lean into Health Message When it comes to distinguishing almonds from other nuts in the Mexican market, almonds’ positive health qualities allow them to stand out in the crowded snack category. Almonds’ healthy attributes also dovetail nicely with Mexico’s national campaign to support good health and fight obesity. The rise of diseases of affluence in Mexico and the increasing consciousness towards improved health, especially through food choices, provides an opportunity for almonds to become a greater part of the conversation. To capitalize on the growing need and desire among Mexican consumers to choose healthy foods, ABC has leveraged decades of grower-funded nutrition research to create a platform from which to educate consumers about the positive nutritional benefits almonds contribute to one’s diet. During ABC’s trip to Mexico in Nov., the Board presented to cardiology professionals at the Mexico Cardiology Congress. As part of the presentation, Dr. Rudy Ortiz of UC Merced reported on his published almond research, “Glucoregulatory and Cardiometabolic Profiles of Almond vs. Cracker Snacking for 8 Weeks in Young Adults,” which aimed to discern the potential benefits of almond vs. cracker snacking in improving blood sugar regulation and cardiovascular and metabolic health among new college students.1 Dr. Swati Kalgaonkar, ABC’s associate director of Nutrition Research, also provided an overview of ABC’s robust nutrition research program to further the demonstrate the Almond Board’s credibility with this professional audience. Through public relations efforts, ABC is continuing to work with media to share almonds’ nutritional benefits and demonstrate the many reasons that almonds are the ideal snack. After his presentation, Dr. Ortiz was interviewed by four prominent health publications — Enfasis Alimentacion, Notimex, Ganar Salud, Plenilunia — each resulting in great coverage of the heart health benefits2 of almonds. The latest research on the potential benefit almonds may have on the depth and severity of skin wrinkles among postmenopausal women is also very interesting to the press in Mexico. While follow-up studies are in process, as this research was truly preliminary in nature, consumers and media members in Mexico and worldwide are increasingly interested in the findings and larger concept of achieving “beauty from the inside out.” In Mexico, specifically, coverage on this research has resulted in over 1.7 million impressions through October 2019 in traditional media, alone. For the Almond Board’s Global Marketing team, publicizing information on the health benefits of almonds is a key priority within its Mexico marketing strategy as media and consumers are truly hungry for this type of information. Stay tuned for future updates on ABC’s Mexico marketing program, and check out page 23 of the 2019 Almond Almanac to learn more about marketing highlights from the 2018/2019 crop year.  Dhillon J, Thorwald M, de la Cruz N, Vu E, Asghar SA, Kuse Q, Rios LKD, Ortiz RM. Glucoregulatory and cardiometabolic profiles of almond vs. cracker snacking for 8 weeks in young adults: A randomized controlled trial. Nutrients 2018; 10(8): 960. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10080960.  Scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 oz of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.