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Original nut shelling plant
Original nut shelling plant built in 1914 alongside rail spur. Most shipments in and out of the plant were by rail, which made freight rates a primary concern of Exchange development.
Since 1910, the cooperative (then known as the Exchange) worked to expand the market for California almonds. When the shelling plant was established in Sacramento, California in 1914, now Blue Diamond's headquarters, whole natural and salted almonds were processed and sold to U.S. buyers under the Blue Diamond label. By 1926, blanched and salted almonds were sold in glass jars and tins for retail sale, and roasted almonds in barrels for the ice cream manufacturers. By 1928, the product line included Nonpareil variety almonds in jars, roasted, ground roasted, whole blanched, sliced natural and ice cream topping.

An unsteady post-war economy and continuing restraints on cocoa for candy manufacturers complicated almond marketing in the 1940s. To expand sales, Blue Diamond courted the ice cream, bakery and consumer markets with new products and promotional programs. In 1949, the six-ounce can of Blue Diamond Smokehouse almonds emerged, but not until the early 1960s would it take off when American Airlines introduced small foil packs to consumers. Almond snacking on airlines became a way to entice consumers to Fly American. Soon all major airlines were serving Blue Diamond almonds and consumers wanted to know where to buy them!

By the 1960s over 40 new manufactured products using almonds as an ingredient emerged. At the same time, Blue Diamond opened the international market to California almonds in Canada to expand the North American market. Six-ounce tins of flavored almonds won wide acceptance in retail stores and Blue Diamond initiated a gift-pack business as another retail outlet for its products. Soon Blue Diamond almonds became synonymous with Christmas gifts!

Real almond growers
Real almond growers were promoting Blue Diamond almonds during the "A can a week, that's all we ask" marketing campaign.
By the mid-1970s, Blue Diamond advertised extensively in magazines and newspapers and promoted almonds to the health foods market and foodservice industry. The cooperative spent heavily on advertising to stimulate U.S. sales. One of the most successful slogans in American advertising appeared in 1986 when television commercials featured almond growers waist deep in almonds saying, A Can A Week, that's All We Ask."

During the 1980s, the Exchange added hazelnuts and pistachios to its product line and changed its name to Blue Diamond Growers because by this time the brand was so well known even the growers themselves were calling their cooperative by its well-known brand name.

In the 1990s, Blue Diamond initiated an industry-wide program to support scientific research to analyze the nutritional benefits of almonds through the Almond Board of California and the International Tree Nut Council. Scientists found almonds and other nuts to be healthy foods that fight heart disease and other serious illnesses. "Almonds Are Good For You" became the leading sales message. The Natural Foods business emerged as an obvious market niche as Blue Diamond introduced Nut Thins in 1997 for consumers who are gluten intolerant and Almond Breeze in 1998 for lactose intolerant consumers.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, innovation drove growth and prosperity of Blue Diamond. New products, new processes, fresh strategies and creative use of technology produced nearly 600 percent growth in sales between 1999 and 2009 for Blue Diamond branded products in the U.S. alone!

Blue Diamond continues to rank at the top of the snack almond and ingredient products, including new refrigerated Almond Breeze beverage, six new Almond Butter products and flavored almonds as an ingredient. North American sales increased 23 percent in 2009 versus the prior year; Almond Breeze sales jumped 43 and Nut Thins rocketed 24 percent during the same period---all by far outstripping the sales growth of their product categories!

Add to that Blue Diamond's ability to capitalize on quality, food safety, great taste and other advantages of almonds and more growth can be expected in the future.