Exports of California almonds soared for the marketing year just closed, according to the Almond Board of California, Modesto, Calif. Almonds soared to new all-time records, indicating continued strong global demand.

Record shipments accompany the industry’s largest crop ever. 1.38 billion pounds of almonds, 24 percent more than the previous year, were harvested during 2007.

Total worldwide shipments grew by 18 percent over the prior crop year to reach 1.26 billion pounds. Specifically, shipments within the U.S. rose 7.2 percent to reach 394.8 million pounds. The U.S. is the largest single market for California almonds. Domestic shipments accounted for 31 percent share versus 69 percent for export shipments.

Almond shipments to overseas markets increased to 866.4 million pounds, up 24 percent over the previous year, led by strong growth in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Notably, almond exports have achieved new monthly records for the past 13 consecutive months.

Western Europe and Asia remained the top two export destinations on a regional basis, with shares of 54 percent and 23 percent respectively. Exports to Western Europe grew 24 percent over the previous year, while exports to Asia grew 20 percent, driven by strong demand in markets such as India, China and Korea where new shipment highs were recorded. In terms of individual markets, the top five export destinations were Spain, Germany, India, Japan and China.

“The growers and handlers of California almonds have set the stage for this unprecedented growth with forward-thinking, strategically sound programs administered by the Almond Board of California. From the research in the field aimed at creating a more sustainable environment for growing almonds to the investment in research to understand almond nutritional benefits, the entire almond community has been focused on making record crops and record demand a reality,” said Almond Board President Richard Waycott. “In fact, almonds continue to be the second most frequently used nut worldwide for new nut product introductions and if demand continues to grow at this rate, almonds will become the number one nut for global new product introductions in 2008.”