Australia looks set to build on its position as the world’s second largest almond producer, despite a resurgence in volumes out of California.
Speaking at the Australian Almond Conference in Melbourne yesterday, Rabobank USA’s senior vice president and senior analyst, Vernon Crowder, predicted Australia would contribute around 8.5 per cent of the global almond crop by 2020, up from 7 per cent currently. Crowder added this share could be as much as 10 per cent by the turn of the decade, due to conservative estimates in Australian crop reporting.
California on the rebound
There is still a significant margin between production Australia and California – the worlds largest almond producing region – with the US state currently accounting for around 80 per cent of the world's almond supply, despite an on-going drought.
Crowder said there had been a reduction in Californian production over recent seasons due to the availability of clean water, which in turn impacted pricing.
"That (water availability) forced down the production and therefore the price had to go to record high levels just to ration the crop throughout the world,” Crowder explained.
Californian production is anticipated to bounce back to more historical volume levels over the coming season, as new water sources have become available and new production comes online.
Californian growers have planted some 47,000ha of new acreage according to Rabobank. Crowder said around 70 per cent of these plantings are new orchards, with growers increasingly looking to establish production bases north of the San Joaquin Valley, where there is a greater availability of water.
Crowder didn’t anticipate a substantial drop in prices as a result of the increasing volume.
"They won’t be the record highs of the last two years but they will still be very profitable prices,” he said. “More than half the crop from this last fall (in California) has already been sold.”
Cracking the tough nuts
Following Crowder’s presentation, the Almond Board of Australia’s marketing programme manger, Joseph Ebbage, unveiled a new partnership between the peak body and the Australian Football League’s Players Association (AFLPA).
The pair will team-up to present the Tough Nut campaign over the bulk of the 2017 AFL season, which will see a number of high-profile players share their love of almonds with footy fans.