California almonds have not always seen the kind of success the industry enjoys today. It was not too many years ago that almond trees were being pulled in favor of more profitable crops.

Almonds are once-again a very profitable crop for growers – so profitable in fact that there are reports of vineyards being pulled in favor of almonds in some areas of California. The sub-dollar per pound price almond growers received for several years around the turn of the 21st century are now over $3 a pound.

Credit the Almond Board of California and its efforts to drive global demand for California almonds with the industry’s dramatic success. While it helps that California provides more than 80 percent of the world’s almonds, piles of positive research have made marketing the flavorful tree nut rather easy.

Buddy Ketchner calls the California almond industry an excellent case study in how to grow a business.

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Ketchner is the president and chief executive officer of the Sterling-Rice Group, an interconnected strategy, innovation, and communications firm based in Boulder, Colo., that helps grow businesses and build brands. Aside from working with the Almond Board of California to position California almonds at the top of worldwide markets, Sterling-Rice works with a number of major food brands.

The Almond Board of California (ABC) is working with Ketchner to make California almonds part of the lives of consumers worldwide. Given the success the California almond industry has had over the past decade, Ketchner is rightfully optimistic.

Ketchner was part of a trio of speakers at the recent Almond Industry Conference in Sacramento, Calif. to talk up ABC efforts to drive global demand for California almonds.

According to Ketchner, global demand for almonds starts in North America. Despite the fact that only about 5 percent of the world’s population lives in North America “the purchasing power in North America is stunning,” Ketchner says. “Seventy-one percent of what we earn we spend. We love to spend.”

Though the bulk of almonds grown in California wind up in domestic markets (588 million pounds of almonds went there last year), at 208 million pounds in 2012/13, China is California’s largest almond export market.