Americans are not being asked anymore to eat “a can a week.” That’s arguably not enough.

Blue Diamond Growers will need more than that to meet its next milestone within the next several years, but judging from recent success stories they’ll get there.

Members of the almond cooperative were told that the company achieved a record $1.2 billion in sales last year and is knocking on the door of $2 billion in sales within the next four to five years if their 20 percent annual growth trend continues.

That’s right: 20 percent a year!

“That’s just part of who we are and what we’ve been doing,” said Mark Jansen, chief executive officer of the Sacramento, Calif.-based almond cooperative.

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Explosive growth in the California almond industry, coupled with health claims such as “certified heart healthy” by the American Heart Association, can be credited with some of this success. But that’s not all.

Jansen says Blue Diamond continues to market itself as “the best, most profitable option for growers” by aggressively building the value-added segment of its business. It’s in that value-added segment Jansen says the grower-owned cooperative realizes its greatest profits.

Jansen also credits margin-enhancement with fueling Blue Diamond’s growth.

It’s not merely sliced and diced almonds that go into breakfast cereals and other food products that Jansen calls “value-added.” Last fall the cooperative launched Almond Breeze in Japan and Jansen couldn’t be more pleased with its success there. Almond Breeze has been on American grocery store shelves for a decade now, where it continues to see double-digit growth in a dairy-substitute market once dominated by soy.

According to Jansen, Almond Breeze is on target for massive growth in Japan as it remains the fastest growing product category in the Blue Diamond portfolio.

“The challenge is how you take it from zero to a $200 million business over the course of the next six years,” Jansen said of Almond Breeze’s introduction to the Japanese consumer.

Jansen is confident it can be done given Almond Breeze’s domestic success.

“If we can achieve a similar level of almond milk penetration in Japan we will easily achieve that $200 million sales volume,” he said.

Jansen told growers at the organization’s annual meeting that Silk, its nearest competitor in the United States, outspends Blue Diamond 4:1 in terms of advertising and coupon offerings.

“The only way for us to compete is for us to have a better quality product, having more focused product innovation, and a better strategy and execution,” he said.

Despite being out-spent in certain areas of marketing, Jansen said the cooperative has seen the effectiveness of its U.S. television advertising double. Blue Diamond has been also named the official snack nut of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing.

Part of this campaign includes a national television advertising campaign called “Welcome to Breezeville.” Commercial performance and research testing of the television advertising has already revealed high scores in messaging, driving purchase intent and overall likeability of the brand, Jansen said.

The social media portion of the Breezeville campaign showed an immediate consumer response. Jansen said their Facebook offering showed a 45 percent increase in fan base after launching the television spots.