As published by: https://www.foodformzansi.co.za/home-grown-almonds-hits-sa-fresh-produce-markets/
A Western Cape farm has formed licensed agreements with more than 50 farmers to grow and produce almonds. This, as 50 tonnes of home-grown almonds, called Al Monde, is already on sale at fresh produce markets across Mzansi.
According to the latest International Trade Council figures, South Africa imports about 3 000 tonnes of almonds per year. Currently, the country produces as little as 300 tonnes of almonds per year, predominantly in the Western Cape.
This, however, is set to change as Cape Almonds, a ZZ2 subsidiary, has now lifted the veil on its Al Monde brand. It is described as “fresher, crunchier, tastier, and more affordable” than imported counterparts, giving consumers a chance to buy this super food for less.
Food For Mzansi has learnt that Al Monde almonds are also packed in unique boxes – ranging from 250g, 500g, and 1kg packs – as well as in recycled plastic bags of 100g and 250g. It is also considered a big win for consumers who are conscious about buying produce with a lower carbon footprint.
“Soil preparation is critical and the ZZ2 and Cape Almond agronomists are working hard to give the growers the intelligence and help they need to produce the most abundant and healthy harvest,” says Dan Coetzee, chief executive of Cape Almonds.
He explains that almond farming is more complex than might be appreciated.
“Our production guide is a fully comprehensive ‘manual’ giving the producers everything they need to know – from the arduous soil preparation process, which includes analyses and consultation from soil scientists, through to soil mapping and modification, irrigation and draining, timing, grafting, harvesting, and post-harvest handling. It is an exceptionally technical and involved process and budding almond producers need to perfect the initial planting and soil preparation to ensure a healthy yield every year.”
Almonds need a Mediterranean-type climate to flourish, and the Western Cape is said to match this perfectly.
Coetzee is also head of marketing of the newly formed South African Almond Association.
“Farmers and consumers alike in this country need to know that the industry is committed to long-term sustainability,” he adds.
“The Almond Association will not only be a hub of information but also a body of mutually interested peoples who will collectively ensure that the local industry thrives over time. Together with ZZ2, we began researching and creating the Al Monde product around four years ago because we believe the future is in unlocking the natural goodness available right here in South Africa and to delivering an excellent natural product to local people.”
He believes the launch of local almonds in South Africa comes at a critical time.
“Due to the oversupply of Almonds in the US, South Africa is getting flooded with cheap poor-quality stock. As an association, our main aim is to protect producers and the almond market as a whole and to ensure South Africans consumers get better quality local almonds at competitive prices.
“People are becoming increasingly aware of the need to support local farmers and they also want to know where their food comes from. So, knowing they are buying a product that is fresh – and not six- to twelve-months old as it is when it arrives from California – will be a major factor in their purchasing decision. Until now, very few almonds sold in South Africa are grown locally. The local product will therefore be fresher with a much lower carbon footprint and will be supporting local.”
The Al Monde almonds are raw (not roasted, salted, or treated in any way) and are available at the National Fresh Produce Markets in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Cape Town.