Agriculture

How Ellen DeGeneres is adding to success of Blue Diamond’s annual report

Blue Diamond Growers exec talks about product

Mark Jansen, president and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers, talks to a crowd at the Modesto Centre Plaza at the company's annual meeting in Modesto, California, on Nov. 14, 2018.
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Mark Jansen, president and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers, talks to a crowd at the Modesto Centre Plaza at the company's annual meeting in Modesto, California, on Nov. 14, 2018.

Ellen DeGeneres loves Nut Thins, the crackers made with Blue Diamond almonds, growers meeting in Modesto heard Wednesday.

The company reported $1.57 billion in net sales in the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, up from $1.48 billion the previous year. Leaders credited this, in part, to marketing that featured the talk show host and other traditional and social media.

“You know what really helps? Having delicious products that people, even famous people, can easily fall in love with,” said Kristen Arakaki, brand manager for Nut Thins. She was speaking to about 1,400 growers and allied people at a Modesto Centre Plaza luncheon.

Blue Diamond Growers is the largest player in a California almond industry that provides about 80 percent of the world supply. The grower-owned cooperative employs about 1,500 people at its Sacramento headquarters and plants in Salida and Turlock.

Most of the almonds are shipped plain to other food companies for use in candy, cereal, baked goods, nutrition bars and other products. Blue Diamond recently started selling almond oil to makers of skin-care products. It has its own brands of nuts for snacking and home cooking, along with almond milk and the crackers.

Jonas Paretzkin, director of e-commerce for Blue Diamond, said Amazon has become one of its top marketing channels. He added that the day is coming when almonds are delivered by drone.

The 108-year-old company has benefited from research in recent decades on how almonds could help fight cancer, heart disease and other ills.

Blue Diamond does not disclose its share of the state’s almond volume, which hit a record 2.27 billion pounds last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Growers got an average of $2.53 per pound, down from a spike to $4 during the recent drought but still profitable overall.

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