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California Almond Growers Exchange commercial grade variety, shelled almonds.

As World War I raged, the costs of transporting shelled almonds by train were ever increasing. Shelled almonds were only known throughout the western coast of the United States and price rates were halting the new California Almond Growers Exchange's almond distribution. Despite these challenging times, the Exchange sought plentiful and excellent quality supply. Only after a few years of business, the Exchange was awarded Grand Prize for Almonds at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco for its efforts to establish Blue Diamond Brand as the quality leader in almonds. Almond packaging for the consumer in the early 1900's was predominantly sold by weight where the grocer would scoop almonds from a 50 pound Blue Diamond branded burlap sack into small paper bags and weighed to determine the cost.

Photo caption: California Almond Growers Exchange commercial grade variety, shelled almonds.

Blue Diamond 5-pound box of almonds

In the early 1920s, sealed glass jars of Blue Diamond almonds began to appear on grocers' shelves. Plant superintendent L.G. Kimber introduced an almond "sterilizing" room and usage of air pressure on the shelling line to separate almond meats from shells. Five-pound cartons of shelled almonds introduced in 1923 were designed for display on retail counters. Blanched and salted Nonpareil almonds in glass jars under vacuum were introduced in the late 1920s.

Blue Diamond almonds were becoming more accessible for consumers in safe and convenient packaging. People did not need to purchase huge burlap sacks that contained shelled almonds. By 1927, references to the California Almond Growers Exchange were dropped and the Blue Diamond Almond Brand label became the only name on packages and products. By this time the Exchange was making connections with other food companies such as the Swiss Chocolate Company who started putting out Nestle Chocolate bars using Blue Diamond Brand almonds. One-pound tins of sundae toppings were among the new products in 1929, which included Flaked, Ground Roasted, Sliced Natural, Sliced Blanched and Bakers Topping.

Photo caption: Blue Diamond 5-pound box of almonds.

1-pound cellophane packaged soft-shell almonds

In an ironic twist, as the global economy tanked during the depression, the 1937 crop set a record for California almond production. In hopes of opening new sales, the Exchange introduced two new items for retail trade: one-pound cellophane packages of unshelled and shelled almonds. Brisk sales pushed packaging lines to increase an initial sales plan of 100,000 packages to 600,000 packages total!

Photo caption: 1-pound cellophane packaged soft-shell almonds.

A rig returning to Illinois from California in 1951

Early 1940s
World War II created heavy demand for chocolate candy and its natural partner, almonds. Candy sales in the first four months of 1940 jumped eight percent. New products such as halved almonds and split almonds were developed to meet candy manufactures needs for certain sizes of kernels.

Photo caption: The Hollywood Candy Co. of Centralia, Illinois shipped its candy bars nationwide in its own fleet of trucks. A rig returning to Illinois from California in 1951 was photographed picking up a cargo of 30 thousand pounds of almonds at the Exchange for use in a new batch of zero bars.

Almonds on TV

To help advertise and promote new products, The Exchange's new Buttered Almonds made their television debut in 1952 in Philadelphia. The top U.S. almond markets by outlet were confectionary manufacturers, grocery and Nut Salters. The Exchange was studying the potential of the "mass" market for consumer packages and ways to process salted, roasted and bleached almonds to assure a stable shelf life for consumers.

Photo caption: Almonds on TV: The Exchange's new buttered almonds made their television debut November 21, 1952, in Philadelphia. Deborah Adams, home economist with the Philadelphia Inquirer, introduced the product on her "Features for Women" TV show.

Test shipments

Late 1940s-1950s
Almond flakes and vacuum-packed tins of oil-roasted and butter-roasted almonds for ice cream made their debut in 1949. Chocolate Almond Bits were released for the bakery and ice cream businesses. "Chopt" blanched and natural almonds and slivered almonds targeted bakery trades. French Fried Almonds that competed in snack sections of retail stores were a big success as long as prices were low.

The famous Smokehouse Cocktail Almonds debuted in upscale stores such as B. Altman's and Wanamaker's in New York City. The copy-righted name "Smokehouse Cocktail Almonds" belonged to a distributor, the Grace A. Rush Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, but was used on the "smoked" almond developed by the Exchange for the gourmet trade. Another star on the rise that helped boost consumer demand specifically targeting housewives was the new five-ounce vacuum-packed tin with adhesive pads attached to shelves. This coaxed shoppers to include the brand on shopping lists across America!

Photo caption: Test shipments of Blue Diamond's new 5-ounce vacuum-packed tins of buttered-diced-roasted almonds and promotional materials went into distribution in 1952. The adhesive promotional pads attached to shelves and offered shoppers recipes for using the product. 1952.

Smokehouse Almonds Ad

In 1961, manufactured products accounted for more than 20 percent of total sales. The following year, the Exchange offered Almond Paste to the U.S. bakery, confectionary and dessert trade. In 1965, Blue Diamond's product took flight when American Airlines offered the new foil pack of Smokehouse Cocktail Almonds with its beverage service. The Exchange's development of gas-filled foil packaging technology to increase shelf life of snack packets opened the vending and retail-packet market.

The Exchange's gift pack business included roasted-salted and Smokehouse almonds which grew by 40 percent each year after the line was introduced for several years, a good indication of success to come. Despite the rapid growth in tonnage handled by the Exchange, the production staff's technical expertise kept processing costs low and product quality high.

Photo caption: An ad telling consumers that Smokehouse Almonds offered on airlines are now available in stores across the United States.

A 6-ounce can of barbeque flavored almonds

The Exchange announced its first million-dollar advertising campaign in 1971. Attractive new packaging design and easy to open re-sealable pull-top cans replaced traditional key-opener metal containers for 6-ounce consumer and 5-ounce cooking items. New products based on natural food, health, and nutrition appeals helped the Exchange create new products with cereal companies. Consumers were becoming more attracted to the company's new designs and packaging and soon the "Blue Diamond" brand was the most sought after almond brand in stores across America.

Photo caption: A 6-ounce can of barbeque flavored almonds.

Food technologists

Most consumers by now were familiar with Blue Diamond products, which had become synonymous with California-grown almonds. The company started experimenting with new tastes and Hickory Smoke Flavor Dry Roasted Almonds became an instant success in the early 1980s. A new money-saving "can" for its line of manufactured products was made of a composite paper formulation instead of tin or aluminum which cost less and kept contents fresh longer. Food technologists in Blue Diamond's Almond Research Center rapidly developed new uses and new products. Over 70 percent of the world's almonds now grew in California, displacing Spain and Italy as the major producers. Over 70 percent of California almonds were exported to 90 countries ranking them as the top food export of the state.

Blue Diamond Growers ranked as a Fortune 500 company, generated revenue of nearly 500 million dollars, topped number 57 on the top 100 food companies list and sold over 2,000 different products in more than 90 countries. Blue Diamond had emerged into a progressive company that accepted continuous change as a requirement for success. A decision was made by the nine board members (all of them almond growers) to conduct business solely as Blue Diamond Growers. They dropped any reference to the California Almond Growers Exchange to symbolize the success of their brand in nationally and internationally! It was now competing with the largest food companies in the world.

Photo caption: Food technologists in Blue Diamond's almond research center developed new uses and new products for a growing supply of almonds.

Whole natural Blue Diamond almonds

Competition for shelf space heated up in the early 1990s as branded food companies fought for consumer attention. Blue Diamond products now ranked at the top of the almond snack food category. However, to bring a new level of competition to the supermarket and to satisfy consumer tastes and preferences, Blue Diamond entered a new segment of business that had emerged in local supermarket: the natural foods business. At the same time, markets that only sold natural foods began to emerge, sometimes emphasizing holistic products in the same store. This offered an additional opportunity for increased sales of healthy, natural products like almonds.

In the late 1990s, as the company's innovations and research increased, Blue Diamond experts persisted in their clever marketing efforts to create new products to satisfy both consumer demand and tastes. At the same time, the cooperative continued to increase productivity and "do more with less" to increase the cooperative growers' return on investment.

Photo caption: Whole natural Blue Diamond almonds. To encourage top-quality deliveries and reward growers who achieve top quality, Blue Diamond launched a high quality grower meat payment program in 1992.

Almond Breeze

Early 2000s
At the start of a new century, Blue Diamond Growers instinctively knew that to add value at premium prices, the best course was to determine what consumers wanted and develop products to satisfy the need. It became clear that Blue Diamond's winning formula for success would be based on the fact that almonds possess the attributes that people in America and around the world are seeking in their food: they are simple, natural, nutritious, delicious, flexible in their usage and portable. The focus for the Blue Diamond branded business was to compete in three product categories: snack almonds, snack crackers and non-dairy beverages.

In this new, technological and fast-moving era, Blue Diamond Growers was offering a wide variety of flavors in dozens of different packaging configurations processed in state of the art facilities and sold in over 50,000 retail locations worldwide! By segmenting almond products and their benefits to targeted consumer groups, the company tailored a variety of media and promotional sponsorships to position them with the right message. The goal was to make Blue Diamond the snack brand of choice!

For example, the new BOLD line of distinctively flavored snack almonds introduced in 2007 would conquer the active, health-conscious male consumer. In 2008, women would reach for the new Whole Natural and Oven Roasted almonds designed for calorie-conscious, on-the-go busy moms or professionals who may also have a career.
Who could imagine turning an almond into a delicious and nutritious drink? By offering an alternative non-dairy beverage with half the calories of soy or dairy milk, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze offered a solution through a superior healthy beverage choice, especially for those who are lactose-intolerant. While Almond Breeze was developed a decade before in asceptic packaging designed to attract the natural foods consumer, the business was so successful that a complete refrigerated line of Almond Breeze was introduced in 2009 to compete directly with other refrigerated beverages.

During the same time period, a complete line of nut-based, gluten-free Blue Diamond Nut Thins was also developed for the health-conscious natural foods segment of the business. In mid-2009, yet another line of new Blue Diamond Almond Butters was introduced to retail stores throughout America. Today, Blue Diamond's natural foods products are the fastest growing segment of its branded business.

Photo caption: Almond Breeze blew onto the retail scene in 1998, targeting the lactose-intolerant populations of America, Europe and Asia. With its three different flavors, it can be used in cooking or as a creamer substitute in coffee.


For 100 years Blue Diamond has brought to the market the highest quality products in the snack nut and natural food business. The cooperative is at the forefront of new package innovation and nutritious products designed to attract more consumers more often. New Blue Diamond products will continue to be brought to market as both packaging technology advances and consumer tastes evolve. Our goal is to always exceed our consumer expectations to satisfy their desire for our product. For these reasons Blue Diamond will continue to be THE leading brand for almond products in the decades ahead---the renowned plea from Blue Diamond growers asking for A Can A Week, That's All We Ask is now more than a can. And as the new Blue Diamond slogan says, it's also More Than A Snack!