Global demand for California Almonds soared to new heights in crop year 2008-2009, bucking the trend of the global economic downturn as consumers and food manufacturers alike demonstrated their unwavering, growing desire for tasty, wholesome almonds.

According to the July 2009 Almond Board Position Report issued Aug. 11, 1.39 billion pounds of almonds were shipped worldwide during the 12-month crop year ending July 31, 2009, marking the third consecutive year of record shipments. This reflects a 10 percent increase over 2007-2008, and exceeds the entire production volume of 1.38 billion pounds in 2007-2008.

Domestic shipments within the United States rose 4 percent over the prior year to reach 411.0 million pounds in 2008-2009, also a new all-time record. The U.S. accounted for a 30 percent share of total shipments, with the remaining 70 percent destined for about 90 countries around the world. Total exports reached 978.4 million pounds, surpassing the previous record set just a year ago by 13 percent. The top five export destinations were Spain, Germany, China, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Shipments to all five markets exceeded prior year totals, with exports to China impressively more than doubling from 46.6 million pounds in 2007-2008 to 99.7 million pounds in 2008-2009.

"As we enter the new crop year, shipments to China continue to be astounding," commented Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California. "2009 August deliveries were almost 5.5 million pounds versus less than 1 million pounds last year," he added. Shipments to India and the United Arab Emirates also sharply rose in 2008-2009 by 19 percent and 52 percent respectively.

On a regional basis, exports to Western Europe reached 448.5 million pounds, a 5 percent decline compared to the prior year, but still firmly maintaining the region’s ranking as the largest market for California Almonds worldwide. Western Europe accounted for a 46 percent share of exports, compared with 28 percent for Asia and 13 percent for the Middle East. Meanwhile, the share of Asia and the Middle East combined jumped from 33 percent in FY 2007-2008 to 41 percent in FY 2008-2009, driven by rising demand and a comparatively favorable economic environment in increasingly prosperous emerging markets.

With continued positive momentum in California Almond demand growth across the world as a recession-proof essential food and ingredient, the outlook is bright for another strong shipment year in 2009-2010.