Chinese Tariffs Could Have Major Impact on California Almond Growers

MANTECA -- The impact of China's tariffs will be felt locally in the almond industry, as the China market makes up nearly a tenth of the yearly sales of California almonds.

Production continues to roll on at Travaille and Phippen, Inc., but in a business that grows on unpredictability, news that China was instituting a 15 percent tariff on almonds was not viewed lightly.

"I can assure you that no member in our industry welcomed that news," said Dave Phippen.

Phippen’s business does everything from growing almonds to marketing and packaging. He said around 150 million pounds of California almonds end up in China, which is anywhere from five to 10 percent of the market for almonds in the world.

"Would it kill us if we weren’t able to go to China?" Phippen told FOX40. "We'd probably find other opportunities but we never want to diminish any trading opportunity anywhere in the globe. So we are looking for every available trading partner to offer our tasty, nutritional California almonds to."

Phippen said it is too early to predict what the tariff will do to the relationship between California almonds and China but said pricing will likely rise.

"We just file it away as a concern and a challenge and something we have to deal with," Phippen said. "But at the end of the day, a tariff situation is not something that we're in control of."

More pressing concerns are water and having workers for harvest at the end of the summer. With new challenges being added, Phippen said it’s all a part of the job description of being an almond grower.

"I think that represents my entire life," Phippen said. "We've always been challenged with something and, unfortunately, a lot of it has political answers. I think to be a grower in California you operate well in an adverse environment and you are able to clear away those things that bother you."