Almond plant crowning achievement
by Sam Matthews
Oct 01, 2012 | 5400 views | 9 9 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Almonds in demand
Almonds in the shell wait in bins at the Crown Nut Chrisman Road on Thursday, Sept. 20.   The operation owned by Mike Sandhu continues to expand.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
view slideshow (8 images)
A year-old — and still expanding — processing plant south of Tracy is helping meet the growing worldwide demand for almonds.

Crown Nut Co., operated by Mike Sandhu and members of his family, is shipping an average of 44,000 pounds a day — the equivalent of a 40-foot steel container — mostly to overseas markets.

“Almond consumption is climbing each year all over the world,” Sandhu said. “We are seeing major increases for almonds in places like India and China.”

He said Indians have been eating almonds, mostly as snack food, for centuries, and a growing middle class that is becoming more health-conscious is boosting consumption. In China, where consumer buying power has exploded in recent years, almonds are used mostly in traditional Chinese dishes.

And in Europe, candy makers are a prime customer for California almonds, which account for nearly 75 percent of worldwide production.

The majority of almonds being processed at the Chrisman Road facility — a $6 million investment — come from more than 5,000 acres of Sandhu almond orchards, mostly in the Tracy area. Young trees will be coming online in the next few years, and another 1,000 acres are being planted with almonds this year.

Once they are shaken from trees, the almonds are trucked to the Chrisman Road facility, where operations are centered in a 24,000-square-foot building completed a year ago and expanded by a 12,000-square-feet addition. A 24,000 square-foot warehouse building is now under construction.

The plant has a capacity of processing 100,000 pounds of almonds daily. At this point, 44,000 pounds of almonds in the shell and up to 18,000 pounds of shelled almonds are being processed each day.

The 45 employees work in shifts every day of the week, first removing the hulls, then cleaning and grading almonds remaining in shells, a majority of the crop.

Those that are shelled have the meat graded and sized by electronic and human sorting before being placed in 50-pound cardboard containers for shipment.

The in-shell almonds go into 50-pound plastic bags to be shipped.

Many of the containers carry the almonds to the Port of Oakland for overseas delivery. Exports are expected to account for half of California’s 2012 record crop of nearly 2 billion pounds of meats produced from 750,000 bearing acres.

Although production is up because of increased plantings, this year’s almond crop has come in slightly below original projections, increasing demand and boosting prices, Sandhu said.

“We used to get a few calls each day for orders. Now we get 25 or 30, and we can’t fill them all,” he said.

Little goes to waste. The hulls are sold to dairies and cattle operations for feed, and shells become feed, too, after soaking up nutrients from silage.

Mike Sandhu’s son, P.J., recently returned from China, which for the first time has become the leading export destination for almonds from California.

P.J. Sandhu is heading the processing and sales end of the Sandhu almond operation, and another son, Aman, is managing the farming.

The future of growing, processing and shipping nuts looks bright, said Mike Sandhu, who came to the Tracy area from Merced in 1996.

“We expect to double almond production every two years,” he said, “and next year we will begin processing and shipping walnuts.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 03, 2012

Had a bad night I see an woke up kinda witchie spelled with a b. Here I complement ya fer seein through th guise an ya accuse me of bein a drunk. Don't drink. Never did. So tell me, what's yer excuse fer such a bad night's sleep ta cause ya ta tell someone ta shut up, thair a fool an a drunk? Hope ya have a better day than ya started this one out.

Fer someone who seems ta value th right ta free speech one wonders why ya are so inclined ta deny th same right ta someone else.

Have a nice day.
October 02, 2012
Eagles Up (Veteran support organization) was passing thru the area with the California Run For The Fallen - a 150 mile relay race in support of the Fallen from OEF/OIF. Mike (owner) stopped to see what we were doing. We explained what Eagles Up is and what we were currently involved with, in addition to the 4th Annual Marine LCpl Travis Layfield Memorial Golf Tournament. He immediately showed a sincere and total respect and caring. He asked for a flag that he could fly in honor of our Hero's. He also made a very nice donation to Eagles Up in support of our efforts. A true patriot to all.
October 01, 2012
Th' picture-takin' feller done shoulda snapped a few more shots of sweet miss Audrey Chavez there. That ther's the purdiest back side I done seen this side of th' Miss'sippi, I tell ya wut. Jus call me Mr. Fap-itty-do-dap, I'm gon be busy fer a spell, I rekon.
October 02, 2012
Strange thing. Every election season, someone goes and pretends to be someone else, that they disagree with (instead of stating the reasons they disagree with that other fella). I don't know what it is about voters.

Anyway, good article Sam. At some point we'll have an almond / bean fest?
October 02, 2012
I know what you mean!
October 02, 2012
Ohhhh.... I see what you did there!

Nicely done.
October 03, 2012
Still not impressed with someone who attempts ta write thangs under my moniker.

It's disrespectful ta Audrey as I would never say somethang like that an never have. It's also disrespectful ta th readers by givin them a false impression of what's really goin on in our community.

It's also disrespectful ta me as well but I can get over it.

An it's also disrespectful ta Mr Fap-itty-do-dap in that he or she obviously has nothin of real importance ta say an has nothin better ta entertain himself by attakin me an usin Audrey as th scapegoat. It takes a real brave man ta go out of his way ta make someone look stupid an end up insultin someone innocently standin on th sidelines.

Thanks RHCP at least ya caught on ta th fraudulent attempt.

Same goes ta Amlee1979 as well. We don't always agree but ya at least know who I am as Ornley an aren't easily fooled by imposters.

Don't quite know how ta respond ta Bird_Man since his comment seems ta indicate his approval of th fraudulent post with his "Nicely done" comment.
October 03, 2012

An it's not really all that strange in an election season. It's easier ta attack th message bearer than it is ta discuss th issues ya really probably don't know anythang about. That's entertainment fer ya.

Now ta th story. Almonds. Absolutely love em an thair so good fer ya. Lots of calcium an high in omega-3 fatty acids that's good fer ya too.

Almond milk, much better than dairy in my opinion.

Roasted an ground up in a milk shake, nice desert too. Good snack food ta munch on. Been eatin em since I was old enough ta crack em open usin a little hammer.

An it's a local business doin good, that's like frostin on th cake. Good on th owners, wish em a world of success.

Oh, an Almond Shrimp is absolutely fantastic, if ya like shrimp an almonds. Very big dish in China.
October 03, 2012
Shut up, Ornley, you old drunk fool!

We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at