An uptick expected in worldwide consumer spending as the global financial picture improves will likely open the doors for increased sales of U.S. commodities including California almonds.

Ira Kalish, global economics director at Deloitte Research, paints an optimistic long-term global economic forecast which should place grins on farmers’ faces. Deloitte Research is a New York City-based firm which identifies and analyzes major issues facing businesses today.

Kalish spoke during the ‘Selling a 2-billion-pound crop” seminar at the 2011 Almond Industry Conference in Modesto, Calif., in December.

“In the short term, we’re looking at a recession in Europe and a temporary slowdown in China and India and other emerging global markets due to the global economy,” Kalish said.

Over the long term, Kalish expects moderate economic growth in Western Europe. China will grow slightly slower, but its move to a more consumer-driven economy will result in stronger consumer spending growth.

This is good news for Western agriculture. The expansion of California nut acreage and production continues to set records. The California almond industry will likely surpass the 2-billion-pound production plateau, an industry record, this year barring significant weather events.

The U.S. is the top California almond customer followed by China, Spain, Germany, and India, respectively. The U.S. purchased nearly 500 million pounds of almonds in 2010/2011. China imported 168 million pounds.

As the worldwide economy improves, Kalish predicts China and other emerging markets including India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam will buy more consumer goods. This is due to a large number of citizens earning more income and climbing from the poverty bracket to the middle class.

This provides consumers increased opportunities to purchase consumer goods and services including farm products. Moving to the middle class means food diets usually shift from mostly grain to more protein including meat and fish.

In addition, the middle class tends to eat more meals outside the home and welcomes more diversity in their diet.

“This greater openness for the middle class and the affluent opens them to more diversity for foods which opens an opportunity for you (the almond industry),” Kalish said. “It depends on how you market the product and the ability of almonds to be integrated into a more diverse diet.”

Marketing is among the strengths of Western agriculture organizations. Now with 7 billion-plus people on Earth, more people need more food which further opens the door for Western-grown crops. The long-term demand for Western farm products is strong and commodity prices are expected to rise.