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California Almonds Continue to Inspire New Products Worldwide

According to data from Innova Market Insights, California Almonds were the number one nut used in new products worldwide in 2016, the tenth year that almonds have held the lead position for nuts used in new product introductions. Almonds were featured in 38% of new food introductions featuring nuts in 2016, a 5% increase from the previous year, per the report[1]. Key categories for worldwide almond product launches include confectionery (23%), bakery (20%) and snacks (18%), as well as bars (12%) and cereal (9%), which together account for 82% of almond product introductions. In more than 15 forms, including almond milk, butter and flour, almonds are one of the most versatile nuts and the nut that is most top-of-mind for global consumers.[2] In addition to the top five categories for almond product introductions, the dairy and dessert categories also saw exciting growth. The dairy category, which includes almond milk, saw a 26% increase in almond introductions, and the desserts and ice cream category had an increase of 33% almond products in 2016. “Manufacturers have long been tasked with tackling innovation in new food products, as consumer demand continues to grow for products that are not only delicious but are also nutritious and offer on-the-go convenience,” said Emily Fleischmann, senior director, Global Marketing at Almond Board of California. “Now, the market place is also looking for these products to align with the growing consumer desire for ‘clean’ products, while ensuring they are safe, sustainable and shelf stable,” she continued. “California Almonds are an ideal tool for manufacturers looking to deliver on these attributes without sacrificing flavor, texture or nutrition.” The versatility and nutritional profile of almonds make the nut a particularly appealing ingredient that can help manufacturers deliver on consumer demands for healthful food products. Almonds can now be labeled “healthy,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in six essential nutrients: protein (6g), fiber (4g), calcium (75mg), vitamin E (7.4mg), riboflavin (0.3mg) and niacin (1mg). For more almond highlights from the Innova Market Insights report, check out this infographic. [1] Innova Market Insights 2016 Global New Product Introductions Report, May 2017 [2] 2016 Global Perceptions Study, Sterling Rice Group, January 2017  
Newsletter
Aug 11, 2017 // About the Almond Board

FSMA Files: Straight Talk from the Experts on Compliance

Welcome back to our FSMA Files column! This month, we’re focusing on questions we’ve received regarding FSMA compliance dates. These questions are timely, as FDA recently announced a delay in the compliance dates for the agricultural water requirements in the Produce Safety Rule. We’ve also fielded a number of questions about whether operations are considered farms or facilities and how to cancel a facility registration with the FDA. Please keep your questions coming! You can send them to Tim Birmingham at tbirmingham@almondboard.com with the subject line “FSMA Files,” and we’ll be sure to address them in upcoming columns. Question: When does FSMA compliance begin? Straight Talk: Your FSMA compliance dates depend on the specific rule that applies to you. This is related to the size of your business and whether FDA has delayed any portions of the rule applicable to you. For example, FDA has delayed the compliance dates for the written assurance of commercial processing requirements in the Produce Safety, Preventive Controls and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) Rules and has announced plans to delay the compliance dates for the agricultural water requirements in the Produce Safety Rule. For a better idea of how different rules apply to different business, read on. Explanation: Each FSMA rule has its own set of compliance dates. These dates vary based on the size of the operation, as defined under each rule. Generally, a “large business” is a business with more than 500 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees. A “small business” is typically defined as fewer than 500 FTE employees. Each of the rules has its own definition of a “very small business,” which is based on food sales plus the value of food held without sale (see the next question below regarding these dollar amounts). In addition, due to various comments regarding implementation challenges, FDA has delayed the compliance date for certain components of the rules. Specifically, FDA has announced plans to delay the compliance date for the agricultural water requirements in the Produce Safety Rule. The original compliance dates for these requirements were set to begin in January 2020 (but certain sampling would have had to begin sooner). FDA is exploring ways to simplify these requirements after receiving feedback from stakeholders that some aspects of the rules are too complex to understand and implement. FDA has not yet determined the new compliance dates, as “the length of the extension is under consideration.” Other extended compliance dates address: The requirement to obtain customer assurances for food that will be subject to further processing. Note that the original compliance dates remain in effect for the requirement to disclose that a hazard has not been controlled when relying on a subsequent entity to control the hazard. Compliance with the Preventive Controls rules for facilities solely engaged in packing and/or holding activities conducted on nut hulls and shells. This extension covers almond brown skin facilities that only size, sort, grade or pack almonds, as well as facilities that only hull and shell almonds, as long as the facility does not engage in manufacturing or processing activities (i.e., chopping, grinding, mixing, roasting, pasteurizing, salting). Compliance with the Preventive Controls rules for facilities that would qualify as “secondary activities farms” except for ownership of the facility. Facilities that meet the definition of “secondary activities farms” except for the ownership criterion can take advantage of an extension for compliance with the Preventive Controls rule if: The operation is not located on the primary production farm; The operation is devoted to harvesting, packing and/or holding of raw agricultural commodities (RACs) (including operations that hull, shell and/or dry nuts without additional manufacturing); and The operation is under common ownership with the primary production farm that grows, harvests and/or raises the majority of the RACs harvested, packed and/or held by the operation. Examples of common ownership include: An operation owned by (or that owns) one or more primary production farms (e.g., a packing house owned by a cooperative of individual farms) Operations that are managed within the same business structure as the primary production farm (e.g., the farm and packinghouse are separate operations owned by parents and their children, respectively, and both operations are part of the same business jointly owned by the parents and the children) In general, FDA has delayed compliance by two years in order to align the Preventive Controls rule compliance date with the Produce Safety rule compliance date for those facilities that can look to the Produce for compliance guidelines. For specific compliance dates with each of the FSMA rules, please explore the resources available at almonds.com/growers/fsma. Question: What is the definition of a “very small business” for the purposes of determining FSMA compliance dates? Straight Talk: Each of the FSMA rules has its own definition of a “very small business”. “Very small businesses” are typically exempt from complying with the rule. Determining whether or not you qualify for this exemption is based on the dollar value of sales of human food plus the market value of human food manufactured, processed, packed or held without sale (e.g., held for a fee). There are baseline values set in each of the FSMA rules, but FDA will adjust these values over time due to inflation. Thus, the exact cutoff value will change from year to year. Basic guidance is provided in the table below. Explanation: Each FSMA rule has its own definition of a “very small business” based on the value of food sales and food held without sale. “Very small businesses” are exempt from rule compliance due to their size, as defined by sales. The rationale is that these operations do not have the resources to comply with the rule and exempting them represents a low risk to the food supply. Because the compliance obligations and risks are different from rule to rule, the sales values that determine the definition are different as well. An operation must review the definitions in each FSMA rule to determine whether it meets the definition and to determine its compliance date. FDA will adjust the baseline values established in the regulations for inflation at the end of March each year. To do this, FDA will use the federal calculation for the gross domestic product price deflator, provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Below we provide a table with the average three-year inflation-adjusted values for the FSMA rules, which are the values that need to be taken into account when determining whether an entity meets the very-small-business-related definitions under the various FSMA rules as of 2017. By way of example, the Preventive Controls for Human Food definition of “very small business” includes a threshold of an average of “less than $1 million, adjusted for inflation, per year, during the 3-year period preceding the applicable calendar year in sales of human food plus the market value of human food manufactured, processed, packed or held without sale (e.g., held for a fee)” (emphasis added). Using the inflation-adjusted values provided by FDA, in 2017 a facility’s average annual income now would need to be below $1,065,291 to qualify as a “very small business.” FSMA Inflation-Adjusted Cut Off Values   Regulation and Definition  Baseline Value for Cut-offs (2011) Average 3-Year Value for 2014 - 2016  Preventive Controls for Human Food: “Very Small Business”  $1,000,000  $1,065,291 Preventive Controls for Animal Food: “Very Small Business”  $2,500,000  $2,663,227 Produce Safety Rule: “Qualified Exemption”  $500,000  $532,645 Produce Safety Rule: “Not Covered Farm”  $25,000  $26,632 Foreign Supplier Verification Programs: Human Food: “Very Small Importer”  $1,000,000  $1,065,291 Foreign Supplier Verification Programs: Animal Food: “Very Small Importer”  $2,500,000 $2,663,227  Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: “Non-covered Business”  $500,000 $532,645 Intentional Adulteration: “Very Small Business”  $10,000,000 $10,652,906    Question: If my farm is registered with FDA, but based on the new definition of a “farm” I am not required to register it, what should I do? Straight Talk: If your operation was previously registered with FDA, but now no longer needs to be registered, you should cancel the registration. Explanation: Operations that meet the definition of a farm do not need to register with FDA. If your operation was registered, but now meets the definition of a “farm” under the new regulations, you should cancel your registration. You should go online to FDA’s facility registration portal and cancel your registration electronically (through https://www.access.fda.gov/). Alternatively, you can cancel your registration by paper (mail or fax). This form is available here: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Forms/UCM072017.pdf. You will be asked to provide information such as registration number, facility name and address. This column was prepared by Elizabeth Fawell and Maile Hermida, who are lawyers with Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC. The FSMA Files column is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  
Newsletter
Aug 02, 2017 // Quality and Food Safety

Investing in the Future

Almond Board of California (ABC) exists to further develop a sustainable and profitable marketplace for California growers and handlers. August 1 marked the start of the 2017/2018 crop year for the Almond Board of California budget, and with the new year comes new opportunity for supporting California Almonds. ABC believes strategic investment is essential in carrying the industry to new heights. The new budget provides for a hefty increase in marketing support of roughly $10 million. By allocating funding to create additional global demand, we can help put California Almonds in a favorable position ahead of an ever-increasing supply. Marketing investments will hold many forms across the world. Take Germany. German customers as a whole already include almonds in pastry and chocolate recipes, but haven’t traditionally considered almonds a snack. ABC has launched a robust public relations and advertising program to encourage a mind shift, encouraging increased consumption. Japan will also see a revived trade and public relations program, following a multi-year absence in the region. Back in North America, Almond Board is applying best practices from U.S. marketing programs in Canada by targeting males, expanding from the historically female demographic. The goal throughout all marketing campaigns is to help the world love California Almonds as much as we do. The 2017/2018 ABC budget also includes ample support for new and on-going agricultural and environmental research as well as human nutrition research. The latter will be especially important in India. Unfortunately, Indians are the world’s foremost sufferer of diabetes. ABC’s Nutrition Research Committee launched three clinical trials studying various dietary issues involving the disease that will build foundational knowledge of how almonds may help. In addition to helping improve health in India, increased almond consumption fueled by nutrition research will benefit almond growers in California. Beyond generating traditional consumption through marketing and research funding, ABC is investing in the disposition of almond co-products. To help advance this cause, ABC established a Bio-Mass Working Group. From better understanding the value of incorporating hulls, shells and woody bio-mass back into orchards to extracting sugars from hulls for human consumption, the group plans to tackle it all. As growers push the envelope of what’s possible, Almond Board continues to help drive almond consumption and move the industry forward at an accelerated pace. No matter the form, investing in California Almonds pays dividends.
Newsletter
Aug 02, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Solar Day in the Orchard

Saturday, July 15, 2017 marked the first-ever solar day for members of the Almond Board of California’s Almond Leadership Program. Leadership participants gathered in an almond orchard at Chamisal Creek Ranch in Colusa County, where owner Mike Doherty joined Sunworks Solar Inc. in hosting the event. The learning opportunity was a success as young almond industry leaders gained a comprehensive view of the important role solar energy can play on the farm.    Rita Edwards, Director of Marketing for Sunworks and a recent graduate of the Almond Leadership Program, said, “We are extremely pleased to have co-hosted the Almond Board Leadership Program with Chamisal Creek Ranch. We are committed to establishing long term relationships with almond growers and to integrating solar power to enhance the efficiency of almond farming methods.”   Leadership participants appreciated the opportunity to see solar panels’ sustainable power at work in the middle of an orchard. Robert (Cameron) White of Sierra View Ranch believes solar energy may be a cost-effective option for environmentally-savvy farmers. “This [solar] has been a great option for farmers for the past several years to offset their electricity bills and significantly increase the sustainability of the overall operation.”    Overall, these future leaders of the almond industry felt enthusiastic after their exposure to solar innovations in the orchard. “The solar day at Chamisal Creek Ranch was a phenomenal experience,” said participant Ashley Hollis with Almond Alliance of California. “Mr. Doherty graciously shared his vast knowledge and experiences with us, leaving us with a better understanding and appreciation for agriculture. Sunworks was a wonderful host and truly opened my eyes to the benefits of using solar in agriculture; it was obvious how passionate and committed they are to their clients and agriculture.”    Sunworks Solar Inc. is the sponsor of this year’s Almond Leadership Program, the Almond Board’s year-long mentoring and immersion program that includes more than 100 hours of seminars and cooperative events on leadership training, communication strategies, networking and educational assignments. Over the past eight years, the program has helped participants grow as leaders and advocates of the almond industry and broadened their understanding of the multiple components at work in getting almonds from tree to table.    For the past two years, Almond Leadership Program participants have sponsored a fundraiser for California FFA Scholarships awarded to young people who intend to pursue agriculture after high school. This year, the 2017 Leadership Class aims to raise $25,000 in scholarship funds. To join the 2017 Almond Leadership Class in supporting the future generation of agriculture, or to learn the stories of past scholarship winners, visit calaged.org/AlmondLeadershipProgram.    Interested in enrolling in the 2018 Almond Leadership Class? Watch a video from past participants and apply at almonds.com/AlmondLeadershipProgram” or contact Jenny Nicolau at jnicolau@almondboard.com or (209) 343-3248.   
Newsletter
Aug 02, 2017 // Orchard Management

Managing Harvest Dust a Year-Round Affair for Heinrich Farms

Managing harvest dust is a year-round consideration for almond grower Gordon Heinrich and his family, who farm 700 acres of almonds, walnuts and field crops near Modesto. The Heinrich family has been farming for five generations on the property, which is in an increasingly urbanized area of Stanislaus County. Gordon Heinrich, and sons Jerad and Phil (from right) work together to manage harvest dust year-round on the family’s five-generation 700-acre farming operation in Stanislaus County. “We are trying to be a good neighbor. We know we are never going to be able to eliminate dust, but we are doing everything in our power to keep it at a minimum and be mindful of our neighbors and nearby schools,” Heinrich said. Gordon Heinrich oversees operations with four of his sons, who take responsibility for different aspects of growing and harvest operations at Heinrich Farms. Phil Heinrich, who manages farming operations, says managing harvest dust really begins soon after the previous harvest with good orchard floor preparation that leads to a level, smooth and clean harvest surface later on. “We want to make sure the orchard floor is level. The more uneven the surface, the lower the harvester heads have to operate, which leads to more dust at pick up,” he said. “So it starts right after the previous harvest, we level out mounds from the harvest and touch it up throughout the year. We take steps to minimize the amount of dirt in the windrow. One way to do that is to keep a level, debris-free orchard floor, and you do that year-round.” Year-round management of vertebrate pests, weeds and debris help eliminate disturbances in the orchard floor that can interfere with harvest operations. “The more debris you have, the more dust you are going to get out of your harvester,” Phil said. He also runs irrigation water two to three weeks before harvest to pack down any loose dirt. Jerad Heinrich, who is in charge of field operations and maintaining harvest equipment, agreed managing harvest dust begins well before harvest starts in October. “We are getting equipment ready for the next year right after harvest and right up until the next harvest,” he said. Jerad goes into harvest preparing sweepers, shakers and pickup machines to reduce the amount of dust. He adjusts tire pressure so equipment runs evenly and sets sweeper and pick up machine head heights so they are running at orchard floor level to collect nuts without disturbing the orchard floor. Newer-generation equipment has low-dust innovations built in. But taking additional steps, such as utilizing gravity chains to filter out dust before nuts reach the suction fan and adjusting head heights and fan speeds are critical.  Jerad Heinrich, who is in charge of field operations for Heinrich Farms, adjusts sweeper head heights to ensure they are collecting nuts but not picking up dust with harvested nuts. Speed is another important factor. Jared said reducing pick up machine speeds can significantly reduce the amount of dust generated. He is also careful to use the orchard row ends as filters, shutting down machines at the end of rows to try and keep dust inside the orchard. Gordon noted that all the preparation and steps for reducing dust at harvest do add considerable work for the family-run operation, but it’s important, particularly as urbanization advances on farming communities. Almond Board of California has been investing in research and resources in recent years to not only identify sources of dust at harvest and methods for reducing dust, but also to communicate to growers the best way to get manage the issue. The Almond Board has made practical guides and videos available to growers and workers to encourage adoption of key practices for reducing dust at harvest. These resources are available at Almonds.com/HarvestDust. “ABC is doing a good job of getting information to growers to make them aware of the problem and the solutions,” he said. “And it’s a matter of training our employees and implementing those ideas to get the job done.” Bilingual training materials available through the Almond Board are part of Heinrich’s training program. “Our employees, if they understand the goal, will cooperate. So training them about the importance of driving at the right speed and other concepts is very important,” Gordon said.
Newsletter
Aug 02, 2017 // Environmental Sustainability

Be a Part of Bringing the CA Almond Industry to New Heights

To better serve the changing needs of the California Almond industry and those stakeholders it serves, the Almond Board of California’s (ABC) Board of Directors approved a Committee/Subcommittee restructuring at the June 13 meeting. The resulting committees, subcommittees and working groups provide more opportunities for industry members to be involved in shaping future research and program focus.   The Almond Quality & Food Safety Committee is being broadened. The new Almond Quality, Food Safety and Services Committee will continue to focus on food quality and safety in addition to overseeing an Industry Services Subcommittee and a Biomass Task Force.   The Production Research Committee and Environmental Committee will be combined to form a single research committee – the Strategic Ag Innovation Committee. This “Innovation Committee” will take a more holistic look at the research needs and challenges facing the almond industry. It will be supported by specialized working groups that focus on specific production matters, and provide recommendations and guidance to the overarching committee: Sustainability /CASP Working Group Pest Management Working Group Orchard, Tree, Rootstock Working Group Irrigation and Nutrients, Soil Health Working Group Harvesting Working Group Pollination and Bee Health Working Group   An Ag Regulatory Subcommittee will be formed to focus on the almond production regulatory issues which were formerly addressed by the Environmental Committee. This new subcommittee will report to the existing Technical & Regulatory Affairs Committee, which deals with regulatory affairs on a global scale.   A new Public Information and Communications Committee is also being formed which will focus on a globally-consistent dialogue between the almond industry and stakeholders by providing factual information about the industry and communicate ABC program successes, education, research results and relevant issues to growers and handlers.     Join-In Committee members who currently sit on committees involved in the restructuring are encouraged to stay involved under the new structure. There is an opportunity now, given this expansion of the committees and working groups, for additional industry members to get involved. By doing so, you are helping to guide the California Almond industry into the future.    Basic duties of ABC committee, subcommittee and working group participation involve attending several meetings a year (“live” or by conference call) and exchanges via phone and email.   The top three reasons to participate include: Influence the strategic direction of the Almond Board and by extension the success of the California Almond industry Opportunity to give back by sharing expertise and experience Enrich your life by being a leader in the industry you love Committee Descriptions and Statement of Interest Growers, handlers, huller/shellers, and any allied industry members along the supply chain or affiliated with the almond industry are encouraged to get involved.   We are always on the lookout for new volunteers and we accept applications throughout the year. In order to join in this coming year, we need to hear from you by July 28, 2017. Please submit a Statement of Interest to serve on the following Committees/Subcommittees/Working Groups. Each of the bullets below links to the relevant description, followed by a Statement of Interest. Completed Statements of Interest should be submitted to staff@almondboard.com or mailed to Almond Board of California, 1150 9th Street, Suite 1500, Modesto, CA 95354 no later than the July 28 deadline.   • Technical and Regulatory Affairs Committee Ag Regulatory Subcommittee • Strategic Ag Innovation Committee Sustainability/CASP Working Group Pest Management Working Group Orchard, Tree, Rootstock Working Group Irrigation and Nutrients, Soil Health Working Group Harvesting Working Group Pollination and Bee Health Working Group • Industry Services Subcommittee   • Public Information and Communications Committee     The Board seeks to ensure that its programs and policies are inclusive and would like to enhance the diversity of its volunteers. We encourage eligible women, minorities and people with disabilities to consider applying to participate.   For further information about the Committee and Subcommittee restructuring or about applying, please contact the staff member named on the specific description or call Julie Adams, Vice President, Global Technical & Regulatory Affairs, at (209) 343-3238.   [1] Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product.  
Newsletter
Jul 18, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Almonds in India: Helping Balance Work, Family and Health

India has a longstanding relationship with almonds with generations of mothers giving almonds to their children in the morning. Aided by a sustained Almond Board marketing program, the shipments of almonds from California to India have seen a 50% increase over the last 5 years, reaching 126 million lbs. in 2015-16. The per capita consumption of almonds in India currently stands only at 0.39 lbs., compared to developed markets like the U.S. (1.97 lbs.), Germany (1.89 lbs.) and Canada (1.87 lbs.), signaling a huge opportunity for growth. Discussion Over Almonds In India, taking care of the family’s needs is predominately a woman’s responsibility. With an increasing number of women working, they find themselves feeling guilty of their work coming at the cost of caring for their family. To highlight the issue, ABC conducted a panel discussion in Hyderabad, titled “Discussion Over Almonds — Working Mother’s Dilemma in Ensuring the Family Health”. Panelists included actress and model Namrata Shirodkar; nutritionist and wellness consultants, Ritika Samadar and Sheila Krishnaswamy; all of whom are facing the struggles of balancing work and family. Additionally, Emily Fleischmann, senior director, Global Marketing, ABC, brought an international perspective to the subject. They discussed how they balance work and family, while highlighting the importance of almonds in their day. The panelists provided useful tips from their experiences, which other working women could also incorporate in their lives. The tactic was extremely successful in highlighting the health benefits of almonds in a broader social context and resulted in strong media coverage.
Newsletter
Jul 14, 2017 // About the Almond Board
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