President’s Report – A Tidal Wave of Almonds!
The almond industry has been on a path of spectacular growth since its inception. This has presented a constant challenge for the hulling and shelling industry. CCAGA has met this test each time.
When I came on board as your President & CEO in June of 2005, I have experienced three periods of significant transformative change precipitated by the global demand for almond products. The first period was in 2005 when we shelled 53,453,656 lbs. of almonds and finished shelling in late January of 2006. A tidal wave of almonds was coming and to ameliorate this influx we built a new sheller, improved overall plant efficiency in the three older shellers and implemented a new computer software system to manage every segment of plant operation from receiving to shipping. The second period of major change came in 2011 when we shelled 104,268,785 lbs. of almonds. To smoothly facilitate this new level of needed performance a new inshell line was installed in Kerman Plant #3, significant changes were implemented in Kerman Plant #2 to increase efficiency, as well as improvements and acquisitions of rolling stock to the Association’s fleet – namely stockpile belt-loaders and wheel-loaders. As predicted, a third transformative period has now arrived as we shell out a staggering 136,000,000-pound crop.
What does the future hold? Well, as reported last year in our newsletter, the industry is gearing up for another tidal wave of almonds. As you are aware, (and as reported by the Almond Board of California), we are experiencing a tremendous expansion of new almond plantings that very well could lift the production of almonds in California to 3 billion pounds by 2022.
So, what does this volume mean for your Association? Well, we are 5.4% of California’s almond production. Using a simple mathematical calculation, we can illustrate the potential impact of such tremendous growth.
3 Billion lbs. of Almonds X 5.4% of State Volume = 162,000,000 lbs.
To be ready for this next level of performance we have commenced a major construction project to modernize our oldest sheller – Kerman Plant #1. Plans were completed in January 2019 and construction began this last spring with the installation of two new state of the art baghouses. Also, all external trenching and electrical conduit were completed. While the plant will not be operable until next summer, our staff and our vendors have pushed the timeline as much as possible to make sure we are ready for the 2020 shelling season.
The vision is to build a new modernized sheller that will have increased deck spacing to process larger volumes of field run almonds more efficiently within a pre-existing building. Our hope is to nearly double the productivity of the sheller from 8,500 lbs. of meats to 15,000 lbs. in a 24- hour period. This is a similar achievement to what we were able to do when we modified Kerman Plant #2 in 2015.
When completed, the modernized shelling plant will also accommodate an additional inshell line and a hash clean-up line. An additional inshell line will help take pressure off Kerman Plant #3 where inshell has dominated over 80% of its run time last season. The Hash clean up line will help us to receive additional revenue from our Hash by-product if we can clean it to a higher level of edible meats.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not again remark on the history and contributions of Kerman Plant #1 to our industry. The K-1 plant revolutionized the almond industry when it first came online in the summer of 1984. It was the first inline shelling plant after the pre-cleaner to come into operation to meet the needs of the Association’s members who were dramatically increasing almond acreage on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. K-1 and its potential was the idea and dream of former Manager Bob Hines. He worked with Ernest Boesch with Ripon Manufacturing Company to design and develop the equipment needed to shell almonds within the same facility AFTER they were hulled. Prior to its construction, almonds were hulled and then delivered to another facility not attached to the Huller where they were then finally shelled. Thank you, Bob, for what you did for this industry with this significant improvement, as well as many others that greatly improved the almond industry through the years!
I am pleased to report that K-1 has been sold by the Association to a Chilean Company located in Rengo, Chile. It will be shipped out on a vessel by next month where it will be reassembled in a new setting and serve the needs of a fledgling and expanding Chilean almond industry.
As always, we thank you for your patronage and wish you a very blessed Christmas season with your loved ones. Please call me personally if you ever have any concerns or questions.