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What could dairy industry learn from Almond Board?

  • What if the U.S. dairy industry had the same single-minded focus as the almond industry does in reaching more consumers with products they like?


A simple thought occurred to me while listening to almond industry officials report a number of success stories.

What if the U.S. dairy industry marketed dairy products like the Almond Board of California or Blue Diamond Almonds markets almonds? Would milk prices to dairy farmers continue to be in the tank year-after-year? Would it matter much that corn and cottonseed prices are through the roof if milk prices were at record highs like almonds are?

The Almond Board of California is a marketing order; Blue Diamond Almond is the largest almond cooperative in the United States. Regardless of those differences, both continue to be keenly focused on increasing consumer demand for the products they represent. Can the same statement be made for the U.S. dairy industry?

What if, instead of bickering over pool pricing formulas and defending to the death a convoluted milk pricing system that seems to be doing nobody with dairy cows any good, dairy producers had a similar mindset that selling more milk products to consumers is the key to profitability?

Does the U.S. dairy industry realize that the largest product growth area right now for America's largest almond cooperative is a milk substitute called Almond Breeze? Japanese consumers apparently can't get enough of the stuff, which is resulting in exponential growth of the product line for the cooperative.

The success stories are out there; they are easy to find. Getting agricultural products in the hands and mouths of consumers is not a matter of simply producing it and expecting it to be automatically consumed. It takes work and focus, but it can be done.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 11, 2013

The Dairy Industry can learn how the Almond board has figured out how they keep enough money in the price of Almonds for all stake holder to be profitably . The Almond Farmer has been covering the average cost of production for the past 5 years and the Dairy Producers have received a price below the average cost of production for the past 5 years.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 12, 2013

As a UDIA member we are getting there full steam ahead look out almond breeze

Joel Karlin (not verified)
on Dec 12, 2013

Big difference is almonds are seen as a very healthy food to consume while milk and dairy products have had to endure decades of adverse publicity about the harmful impact of consuming said products

on Dec 16, 2013

Why do consumers believe almonds are healthy? Did they learn it on their own or were they informed through good marketing and information campaigns? I don't own one cow or one almond tree, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm simply a consumer who pays attention to these things.
Who's job is it to accurately market dairy products? When you say "endure decades of adverse publicity" is there a responsibility on the creator of the product to market the product or simply put it out there, leave it up to consumers to learn about it on their own, and suffer the consequences of misinformation, intentional or otherwise?

on Dec 12, 2013

I have to agree with this article accept for the fact that they do not take into account the fact that our product is fresh and perishable. It comes from an animal NOT a tree. Those animals must be fed, must be treated when they are ill, they must be milked. We do not have the luxury of choosing if we want to harvest and when. It is day in day out everyday. We harvest on the holidays and in every type of weather. No closing down shop for us.

Also our Asia markets are growing leaps and bounds...good for our commodity too. I agree we should make only the milk required by demand. We should not just make all the milk we want and expect a high price. Supply and demand is business 101 but we need good and transparent triggers to enlighten us quickly when production is over taking demand. Of course processors do not want that transparency because of their want and need of "cheap" milk even though they never pass that on to the consumers but greedily place in there pockets. Don't get me wrong I am all about's a good thing but NOT so to be driving our industry to the extreme highs and lows that we have been enduring for years.

Why do dairy farmers "squabble" over pricing? Because it is manipulated by the processors! We are dealing with non-transparent reporting. Our pricing is based on the CME which is so thinly traded. California has been $1.80 less per hundred weight of milk for the last 5 years. There is a huge problem with our system. HUGE! I can assure you that if the same greed, manipulation and corruption was going on in your industry you would be screaming too.

I am happy for your healthy industry. Thank God. I know you are doing well and I am happy. Please don't think us simply "whiners" we have had a tough 5 years and we have not come to any real changes to stabilize ourselves for the future. You have to look at that and see that there is something not quite right.

Yes let's make changes and learn from the Almond Board! I am all for it. I think, though, that you can see there is something way more sinister in our corner. If we could not make positive changes when we needed it the most these past 5 years, how will we ever ?

Free market...I am all for it, but let US be completely free.

Barbara Martin
Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese And Milk

on Dec 16, 2013

Thank you Dairygoddess for your comment.
Agreed... cows must be fed and treated by a veterinarian, which are all input costs to the milk you get from them. Water, pollination and crop protection products are also input costs of the almond grower. That's not the point of my article.
My point is marketing and the focus of a marketing order and a cooperative (two separate entities) who are laser-guided toward the same basic goal.
I guess the flip side of my discussion would be to ask the following: "what if the almond industry marketed almonds like the dairy industry prices milk?" Would tree farmers simply produce as many almonds as possible with little concern for who buys them? Would they have five different classifications of pricing structures for almonds based on their end use (snack nuts, food ingredients, milk substitute, etc,)? Maybe it's time dairy producers seriously consider the system they have and make significant and bold changes rather than complain about how processors have producers over the barrel. Those arguments have been made for a very long time.
The Almond Board of California is an excellent example of how a marketing order can work to benefit the producers. From my observations they've worked tirelessly to increase the markets for California almonds within a smart system that seems to benefit the entire industry.
Yes, the almond industry has a healthy product, and that's certainly to its advantage. Yes, dairy is perishable. So is the milk substitute that Blue Diamond creates. That's very likely a major factor in why Almond Breeze is ultrapasturized.
I would think the dairy industry, with the healthy products it produces, could do well to promote that and find ingenious new products through market research and R&D that consumers would be willing to buy.

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