How We Grow

2022 Spring How We Grow

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"Good day everybody, this is Brian Wahlbrink from Sperry Farms and your 2021-22 Chairman of the Almond Board of California!" That is how I normally start social media posts addressing my fellow growers and fans of the almond industry. Today, I address my fellow California almond growers and industry members as we find ourselves in a new world, with new challenges and new opportunities. I am honored to represent our great industry as your chairman. One of the most common questions I receive in this position is: "How do you think the industry is doing?" Over the past 10 years, I would usually answer with a descriptive one-word adjective: resilient, amazing, strong or astounding. Today, I find myself using other adjectives: tough, problematic or even painful. Let's take a quick look back at where we've been. In 2005, we produced 915 million pounds of almonds. Despite eclipsing the 1 billion-pound mark for three straight years from 2002-04, demand outpaced supply and prices rocketed up. That was the dawn of the industry we see today. California almond farms became the hottest trend and we were off to the races. Since then, the industry has survived a global economic collapse with the housing market crisis in 2008, a global pandemic that we are still learning to navigate and now a war in Ukraine. In 2020, we reached 3.1 billion pounds and that may remain our peak production for a while. We have been through a lot and have the battle scars to prove it. Some of us lost loved ones during these times. We lost our patriarch, Jeff Sperry, last year to a fierce battle with ALS. Our industry has a new feeling of being humbled during these last two years as we all set our sights on nut development for 2022. We hope you attended and enjoyed The Almond Conference 2021 – it felt great to be together in person again. I had two key takeaways from this amazing event. The first being the massive partnership with Marvel Studios and the next movie in the Thor series, Love and Thunder, that will come out in July 2022. Marvel advertises in more than 100 countries and is always smashing the box office with record-setting global movies. California almonds are a great fit for this movie as the storyline matches up well with our healthy snacking campaigns. Our Global Market Development Committee (GMDC) is stacked with top industry volunteers, amazing ABC staff and public relations and marketing agencies who actively market in 11 major countries worldwide. I am proud to have been involved for more than 10 years with this fantastic group of people. The second takeaway is our ever-powerful nutrition research that is a key theme of this edition of How We Grow. This research is a main driver of our marketing programs, creating the "health halo" around almonds that is key to building global demand. I am passionate about our Nutrition Research Committee (NRC) and those amazing minds who work behind the scenes. I want to say thank you to the NRC for our new skin health marketing direction and congratulate George Goshgarian, Sr. on receiving the 2021 Almond Achievement Award for his work on the NRC over the years! Groundbreaking research and marketing campaigns like these are what has propelled California almond demand ahead of supply in the past and will keep us on the forefront in the future once we overcome the challenges of the present. So, with tough times around us, I would offer up what Jeff Sperry would say: Don't get too emotional, at the end of the day people gotta eat, focus on what has to be done and above all...enjoy life! So if you, like the rest of us, are struggling to make sense of the current market dynamics, my call to action for you in 2022 is to come join the team at the Almond Board of California. We have more than 200 industry volunteers focusing on what has to be done – and are always looking for more. As a first step, come check out a committee meeting or just have a conversation with any one of your Board Members. GROW ON! LEADERSHIP Brian Wahlbrink ABC's Board of Directors Chairman WANT TO GET INVOLVED? Visit to see when the next board, committee and workgroup meetings are scheduled. 1

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