Blue Diamond Board Chairman Clinton Shick, McFarland, Calif., almond grower, predicted a continuing trend of firming prices for the cooperative’s almond growers during the company’s 99th annual meeting.

Factors for a positive outlook include a manageable 2009 crop carryover, reduced kernel size variations between the dominant nonpareil and pollinators versus the 2008 crop, a continuing trend for record sales in India, China, and the Middle East versus the traditional markets in Europe and a recovery in the global economy.

With recent months of consecutive record shipments and larger future crops exceeding a billion pounds, Shick said a two-to-three month supply of carryovers into the next crop year are needed to meet annual demand.

Shick says kernel size will not be a significant variable in 2009-2010 and may have been overemphasized by global buyers facing dismal economic factors late in 2008.

"We must work harder as an industry to bring price levels of our pollinators up to a level that allows sustainable production of not only the nonpareil variety, but other varieties too," Shick said.

Shick also expects traditional markets in Europe to be challenged by increasing demand in China, India, and the Middle East where consumption increased 115 percent, 19 percent, and 51 percent respectively.

Shick was re-elected to serve another year as chairman. Dale Van Groningan of Ripon was re-elected to serve as vice chairman. Board members Kevin Fondse of Ripon, Charles Crivelli III of Turlock, and Dan Cummings of Chico were re-elected to serve another three-year term.

Growers elected to serve a three-year term on the Grower Liaison Committee include:

• District l

Larry Bradley, Durham

Merritt Erickson, Orland

John Nock, Chico

• District 2

Richard Denison, Dunnigan

Logan Dennis, Maxwell

Ranjit Dhillon, Richmond

• District 3

James Lopes, Manteca

Joe Molino, Manteca

Arthur Sipma, Manteca

• District 4

David Berg, Escalon

David Dole, Ripon

Terry Mulder, Ripon

• District 5

John Alberti, Modesto

Gary De Vries, Escalon

Pamela Riddle, Waterford

• District 6

Darrell Cordova, Denair

Tom Daniel, Denair

Steve Scheuber, Hughson

• District 7

Zenon Frago, Atwater

David Passadori, Ballico

Steve Stone, Winton

• District 8

Jens Finderup, Fresno

Dave Loquaci, Madera

Rusty Nonini, Fresno

• District 9

Dominic Fino, Dinuba

Tom Schwartz, Lost Hills

Ben Wilson, Shafter