Demand for California almonds, in nearly 90 countries throughout the world, elevated shipments to a record 1.024 billion pounds for the 2003/04 crop year which concluded July 31, 2004.

The release of the Almond Board of California's year-end position report, an account of all receipts and shipments transacted by handlers during the previous 12 months, confirmed - for a fifth consecutive year - record increases in shipments in both domestic and export markets.

Domestic shipments rose 7 percent during 2003/04 compared with the previous crop year to reach 312,160,183 pounds - an increase of over 20 million pounds. Almond shipments to overseas markets increased by 3.11 percent in 2003/04 to reach a new high of 712,122,629 pounds. Overall, exports accounted for 70 percent of total shipments, vs. 30 percent shipped within the U.S., the single largest market for California almonds.

Second largest crop

California's more than 6,000 almonds growers also recorded their second largest crop in history producing 1.033 billion pounds, a 4.68 percent decrease from the previous year's record of 1.084 billion pounds. The California Agricultural Statistics Service has forecasted that the 2004/05 almond crop, currently being harvested throughout the almond growing region, will weigh in at 1.08 billion pounds.

Other highlights of the year-end report include:

  • Russia, a key emerging market for California almonds, experienced a 58 percent rise in shipments to 14,238,160 pounds. This increase can be attributed to a growing urban population enjoying greater economic prosperity and to the expanded introduction of almond containing confectionery and snack lines.

  • Almond growing competitor Italy increased shipments 30 percent from the previous year moving it into the top five export markets for California almonds.

  • Spain maintains its position as the leading export market for almonds with another 25 percent increase, matching its previous year's 25 percent growth for a record 132.2 million pounds during the 2003/04 crop-year. Overall, exports to Western Europe increased 8 percent to 419.3 million pounds and Eastern Europe grew by 32 percent to 20.8 million pounds.