NZ organics company Ceres Organics is spearheading action to diversify the world’s organic almond supply and take pressure off Californian almond growers, in response to one of the most severe droughts in California’s history.
Currently, California provides 80% of the world’s almonds and with the drought affecting supply, the price of almonds has risen 40% globally. Ceres Organics is one of the biggest suppliers of organic products across Australasia with around 400 products in the range and at least 40 of these contain organic almonds.
Managing Director of Ceres Organics, Noel Josephson said the drought in California highlighted the issues associated with having mono-crops and the need for global crop-diversification. “Almonds are a wonderful source of protein, vitamins, minerals and mono-saturated fats and with the movement towards plant-based diets and clean eating, the demand for almonds continues to grow at a time when California is struggling with supply,” Josephson said.
“The droughts in California have served as a reminder that it’s dangerous to concentrate the growth of specific crops in one geographical area – especially with the effects of climate change,” he said. “In order to be able to keep up with demand, we have been working with farmers in other parts of the world on transitioning to organic almond farming in order to keep up with demand and we expect to have some exciting announcements on our progress very soon,” he said.
Josephson said additional environmental benefits of diversifying the source of almonds included less strain on water usage, less impact on soil, and hopefully a move away from the importing of bees to assist crops. “The practice of importing bees to help the growth of almond crops in California is one of the biggest man-made interventions in agriculture. A significant percentage of the bees die every season when they are imported and bees are too important to the eco-system to be used in this manner,” Josephson said.
“We hope that by encouraging other countries to grow organic almonds in smaller crops, there will be less need to resort to importing bees and local bees will be sufficient. It is crucial that we protect the bees while serving our customers because bees are responsible for the cross-pollination that helps at least 30% of the world’s crops to thrive.”