Saturday, 13 October 2012


Dropped in to see Lane and Joyce Parker, with whom I stayed a night during the previous visit on the Global Focus tour. It was good to catch up again, and cement the friendship created in June. Some home cooking and environment other than a motel room become precious at times like this.
A tour of the almond groves managed by Lane, during the harvest, including a new development on a very hilly and stoney site, where planting is about to commence, gave insight into an industry about which I knew very little. All the trees had been shaken, and sweeping was underway, as well as the actual harvesting of the nuts off the ground. Prices are very high, and the quality achieved was high in Lane's case, however this was not representative of all growers. Insect damage is high this year, and it seemed to me the attention to detail and timeliness of operations, for whatever reason may have been a bit off. These are such critical factors in any agricultural production system.
Lane gets some nuts de hulled and packed under the brand California Royale. It is a very impressive business with product traceability and food safety at the fore of what they do. Every load of almonds, whether in bins or bulk, is assigned a bar code, each bin is tested for quality, including pathogens on entry to the site, and every treatment or procedure carried out is recorded against the bar code. As a grower, you know exactly how much product you have to sell, and the quality parameters. The almonds remain the property of the grower, and can be sold when, and to whom the grower chooses. The systems developed to track inventory and all aspects of food safety must be some of the best in the industry.

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