Some of the products Blue Diamond Growers’ Research & Development Director Mike Stoddard created in the three-plus decades he worked with Blue Diamond Growers line grocery store shelves in the United States and abroad.
Blue Diamond CEO Mark Jansen announced Stoddard’s pending retirement at the organization’s annual membership meeting in Modesto, Calif. last December. Steven Morgan replaces Stoddard as the new research and development director.
Morgan comes with a background in the food industry, most recently in similar positions with Campbell’s Food Service, which includes the popular Campbell’s soup brands.
Morgan started his career with Campbell Soup in 1983 after earning his degree in chemistry from California State University, Sacramento. He worked in the production of soups then expanded into Campbell’s Ag department where he worked many years with tomatoes.
Blue Diamond Growers presents a unique and exciting challenge to Morgan because of its vertical integration.
“What excites me is the different varieties of almonds growers plant and why,” Morgan said. “You get to see a value in the food chain from beginning to end – from the grower to the consumer.”
Morgan believes there are a number of effective ways to create new value in almonds, which is a driving force behind Blue Diamond’s double-digit growth.
Whereas some food manufacturers solely produce food ingredients that are not marketed directly to consumers, the challenge of developing new markets for a tree nut that can be consumed raw or converted into a host of other consumer products excites Morgan. “Blue Diamond’s really interesting because we actually make finished products that we sell to the consumer,” Morgan continued.
Morgan cited some examples of projects he’s worked on where a single commodity was simply processed and canned with no effort put into developing new and exciting products for consumers to enjoy.
“Blue Diamond is all about giving consumers reasons to consume almonds,” he said. “I don’t know of anybody else doing that with the products they grow.”
As for new consumer products, customers will have to simply wait and see what’s next for Blue Diamond, Morgan says.
“We have a list a mile long – some of them are really far off and some of them are close in,” he said.
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