Almonds are California’s top agricultural export as well as the nation’s top specialty crop export.  With its unique Mediterranean climate, California accounts for over 80% of almonds produced globally and virtually all domestic almond production.  

Though the state’s natural advantages make it ideal for almond cultivation, California’s stringent regulatory environment presents significant challenges to the industry. Several legislative challenges influence hiring trends in this dynamic industry:  

Water Management and Sustainability: California's ongoing water scarcity challenges have  particularly impacted the almond industry. There's a growing emphasis on water-efficient farming  practices like microirrigation and groundwater recharge. This has increased the demand for  specialists in environmental compliance, water resource management, and sustainable  agriculture. 

Food Safety and Compliance: Compliance with stringent food safety regulations, such as  California Proposition 65, has seen an increased need for in-house legal teams, compliance officers, and food safety experts. 

Research and Innovation: There has been an increased demand for plant scientists, researchers, and agronomists to develop resilient crop varieties, enhance yields, and tackle pest and disease challenges such as fungal canker diseases and navel orangeworm damage. 

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Sales, Marketing, and Supply Chain Optimization: After the USDA announced the 2024 almond harvest would likely be 21% higher than last year, we have seen an increase in demand for sales,  marketing, and export positions to promote Californian almonds domestically and abroad. 

Overall, legislative challenges have had a greater influence than commodity prices on the  Californian almond industry hiring trends. There is a heightened demand for professionals equipped to navigate regulatory complexities while fostering innovation and sustainability. 

In addition to adopting strategic hiring strategies to adapt to regulations, collaboration within the industry plays an important role in securing the future of California almonds. At the forefront of this is the Almond Alliance, a non-profit trade association representing over 80% of California's almond processors. The Alliance’s work advocating for reasonable regulations and providing resources for compliance is pivotal to the prosperity of the almond industry.  

The Almond Alliance is currently searching for its next CEO to advocate for the $6 billion almond industry at the state and federal levels and drive membership and PAC contribution growth to ensure the continued success of California's top agriculture export. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Almond Alliance CEO search, please reach out:

Rachel Quinn is the founder and managing partner of 3P Partners, an executive search firm in the food and agribusiness industry, supporting 200+ family-owned and privately held middle-market companies across the US and Australia. Rachel is a professional member of the Institute of Food Technologists and the National Grain and Feed Association. She is also a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Staffing Association,  and the NPA Worldwide Recruitment Network.