Almond butter is a great alternative to peanut butter, but it does often come at a higher price.
If you have a dangerous allergy to peanuts, you may have an interest in buying almond butter.
The average price of almond butter is between $5 and $30 depending on the size and store from which you buy it.
With the average price of peanut butter being around $3, you may wonder why almond butter is more expensive.
Here are 10 reasons almond butter is so expensive.
Why Is Almond Butter So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Almond Growers Are Experiencing A Drought
One of the reasons that almond butter is expensive is because of the drought that’s affecting California.
California is the country’s top producer of almonds.
In fact, it produces 80% of the world’s almonds.
The climate is ideal for almond trees.
However, California is also a state experiencing severe problems with the weather.
In particular, the state is experiencing a drought.
A drought occurs when there’s little rainfall.
Besides nourishing the surface of the earth, rain also helps replenish wells and groundwater.
When it doesn’t rain for a long time, then everyone relies on groundwater for their water needs.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a source that replenishes on its own.
Water must come from somewhere.
It follows the water cycle and weather patterns.
The problem is it hasn’t rained consistently for some time.
The amount of rain California and other states have received isn’t enough to replenish groundwater sources.
As a result, most crops are withering.
Without water, they die.
Even those that do manage to survive on minimal water don’t produce as many or as healthy almonds.
This makes producing things like almond butter and almond milk more difficult.
To give their almond trees the best chance of survival, farmers have to bring in water from outside sources.
While California sits beside the ocean, saltwater isn’t what they’re after.
Some researchers have managed to turn saltwater into freshwater, but since that’s only an early technology, it’s still quite expensive.
Instead, the farmers rely on buying and transporting freshwater from other sellers.
This is costly since almond trees require a lot of water to survive and bloom.
To make up for their costs, growers have to sell their almonds at higher prices.
Manufacturers then take on extra costs by buying those almonds at higher prices.
In turn, they sell their almond butter at a higher price which the consumer buys.
Almond butter is expensive because of the drought plaguing California.
2. California Wildfires
Besides earthquakes, one of the natural occurrences that California has a reputation for is wildfires.
Whether they’re manmade or occur naturally, wildfires are a serious danger to almond orchards.
It’s not necessarily because wildfires consume almond trees either.
While some farmers have lost trees to the fires, the problem really comes from the smoke.
Fires eventually die out, but the smoke remains for a long time.
It hovers in the air until the wind eventually pushes it elsewhere.
Smoke can also spread several miles away from the source of the fire.
Even if an almond orchard isn’t close to the wildfire, there’s a chance that the smoke can still reach it.
Smoke is the real problem for almond orchards because it impacts the tree’s ability to photosynthesize.
It acts like a cover screen which impacts the sun’s ability to pierce through it and give plants the UV rays that they need for energy.
Almonds also rely on the sun to dry them out.
While they’re on the tree and when they fall onto the ground, almonds usually dry under the sun.
Workers then gather the almonds once they’ve reached peak humidity levels.
When almonds can’t rely on the sun to dry them, then they never reach those ideal levels.
This means that the almond never fully reaches its true potential.
That can impact the quality of the final product.
Farmers have tried to implement their own strategies and tools to help almonds dry before sending them off, but there’s only so much that they can do.
It’s usually down to the manufacturers who have to use expensive drying technologies to get the almonds at the right humidity.
This adds cost to the product’s manufacture which means its price is higher.
Almond butter is expensive because of the smoke caused by California wildfires.
3. Limited Climate Options For Growth
While growing almond trees isn’t too difficult, you do need to have the right climate for them.
Almonds grow best in climates with hot weather and low humidity.
Even the lightest of frosts can keep the tree from blossoming and creating almonds.
Because of that, there are only a few ideal places where growing almonds is ideal.
California is one of them.
So are the Middle Eastern and North African regions of the world.
Both these areas have high enough temperatures with low humidity.
It’s difficult to grow almonds in tropical climates, for example, because those places also often have high humidity.
This makes it difficult for the almonds to dry out.
Since there are only a few regions in the world that can grow almonds well, it means that there’s already a limited supply that farmers can produce.
If almond trees could grow anywhere, then there’d be more farms and more almonds.
Due to their restrictive requirements, there can only ever be a few farmers of almond orchards.
With only a few farms, it means there are only a few almonds that go to several manufacturers.
Some make almond milk and other products of it.
Some make almond butter.
Since the demand for almonds is high, but the supply isn’t, it makes the prices of almonds increase.
As a result, consumers end up paying more for almond-related products like almond butter.
Almond butter is expensive because of the lack of areas in the world that can grow almond trees well.
4. Pest Removal Costs
Almond trees are subject to pests.
Like all plants, pests feed on the plants and either destroy them or leave them diminished.
Farmers have to take expensive measures to ensure that their almond trees remain pest-free while still being safe for human consumption.
Those who sell organic almonds have to do so in a more expensive way since they have to use natural means to repel pests.
Almond trees have lots of threats to them.
Some of the most common include:
- Spider mites
- Fire ants
- Tent caterpillars
- Stink bugs
Fire ants, in particular, tend to do a lot of damage to almond trees.
They’ll crawl up the tree and start to drill into the almond.
Then the ants will take the almond apart and bring it back to their colony.
They’ll also take back the leaves and buds of the almond tree.
If they eat the buds, then no almonds will grow.
Tent caterpillars are another common threat to almond trees.
Although they don’t eat the almonds themselves, they do eat the leaves of the tree.
This becomes a problem because it increases the chances of the tree becoming ill.
If the tree becomes ill, then there’s a chance that it won’t sprout almonds.
It may even die.
To avoid this, farmers use expensive means to rid their orchards of pests.
Since it adds to the cost of producing almonds, farmers then write off those expenses by selling them at higher prices.
If the pests were especially destructive that year, then farmers might have a slightly higher price than normal on their almonds.
Manufacturers then sell their almond products at higher prices to offset their own costs.
Consumers end up having to pay the highest price.
Almond butter is expensive because of the cost associated with pest control for almond trees.
5. High Property Costs And Taxes
Due to the limited land which can grow almonds, the land that is suitable for growing almond trees is very expensive.
This is very different from peanut butter, for example, which can grow almost anywhere.
The land to grow peanuts is cheap.
Since there are only a few rare areas where almond trees grow well, that land then becomes very valuable.
This impacts the price of almond butter because farmers have to pay more to use that land.
In most cases, farmers have to take out a loan to buy the land.
New farmers, especially, rarely have cash on hand that allows them to purchase the land outright.
As a result, they have to pay back their loans like a mortgage.
That cuts into their profits, especially if they needed to take out a large loan to cover the cost of the land.
Besides paying back the loan, they’re also hit with property taxes.
Since the land has a high value on it, their property taxes are also going to be quite high.
While farmers might eventually pay off their mortgage and loan, they’ll always have to pay property taxes.
That takes a cut of their profits.
If the property continues to increase in value, then the amount that they owe also increases.
This impacts almond butter prices because the farmers have to sell at a high enough price to afford to pay for the land.
Manufacturers then need to sell at a high price because they bought the almonds at a high price.
The consumer buys the final product, almond butter, at an expensive price.
Almond butter is expensive because the land costs farmers a lot of money to use.
6. Almond Trees Take Three Years to Produce
While growing almond trees in the right climate isn’t too difficult, it does take a long time for the tree to actually produce the nuts.
A new tree takes three years before it starts to yield almonds worth selling.
That means that farmers are basically in the hole for three years.
That’s on top of land costs, water costs, pest control costs, and other expenses related to growing and protecting almond trees.
By the time farmers can finally start selling their almonds, they have three years of debt to catch up on.
If anything happens to their almonds at that point, then that’s more debt to add to the pile.
If they’re unable to start digging themselves out of their debt for even a single year, that can push them down the hole a bit more.
To help make up for lost time, almond farmers have to place their products at higher prices.
It helps get them out of debt while also giving them a little wiggle room to prepare for any other problems that they might incur that require money.
With their prices higher, final products like almond butter are also higher.
Almond butter is expensive because it takes a long time for almonds to actually grow.
7. Unable To Switch Crop Types
One of the reasons that farmers tend to grow peanuts rather than almonds is that peanuts grow on the ground.
They actually grow primarily under the ground.
They don’t come from trees like other nuts.
Because of this, peanut farmers can switch out their peanuts for other crops during certain parts of the season.
This enables them to have a more flexible farm which means they can plant crops that are trending.
For example, if there’s a sudden push for soy products, then farmers can rip up their peanuts when they’re harvested and plant soybeans instead.
If they want to cash in on staples like corn and wheat, then they can also easily do that.
This allows them to earn extra money when peanuts aren’t performing that well in the market.
Farmers who grow almonds don’t have this kind of flexibility.
Since almonds grow on trees, it’s a lot harder to remove those each season and plant something else.
Since almond trees also take three years to start sprouting almonds, farmers would then have to wait that long each time.
It wouldn’t make financial sense.
Because they’re stuck with almonds, farmers have to make the most of their profits.
To do so, they put them at a higher price.
Almond butter is expensive because farmers are unable to switch out almonds with other crops to increase their revenue.
8. Almond Butter Production
Almond butter, itself, is expensive to produce.
To make the creamiest butter, manufacturers have to remove the skin of the almonds.
This allows them to get to the soft part of the nut which makes for a creamier butter.
Some also choose to roast the almonds beforehand because it enhances their flavor.
Others go through a blanching process.
All these steps take time and cost money.
The more that a company processes its almonds, the better result they end up with.
However, that also means that they put more expense into the product.
Factories need funds.
Their workers need payment and their machines need maintenance.
There are also sanitation processes that they need to follow since they’re making a product for human consumption.
All these factors contribute to the overall cost of making almond butter.
To make up for those costs, the company then puts the finished product at an expensive price point.
The high price ensures that they can pay their workers, take care of their machines, and enjoy a profit for themselves.
Almond butter is expensive because it goes through several production steps.
9. Almond Theft
If farmers didn’t have to contend with enough, they also have to worry about almond thieves.
The almond industry earned $6 billion in 2019.
Profits have only increased from there.
Thieves have taken notice.
Some have stolen onto the property and taken crates of almonds.
Others have seized trucks transporting crates of almonds.
There’s value in those crates and the thieves want in on them.
This has led farmers to invest in security measures.
In most cases, farmers don’t have to deal with this sort of threat with crops like corn, wheat, and other vegetables.
It helps them keep costs down.
Almonds, on the other hand, require extra protection.
Some farmers have placed security lights and cameras on the orchards to keep an eye on their trees.
Others have hired actual security forces to patrol their farms.
All these defense measures come with added costs.
It cuts into their bottom line.
To keep their farms open, farmers have to put a higher price on their almonds.
This then influences the rest of the pricing right down to the consumer.
Almond butter is expensive because almond thieves are making farmers spend more on protecting their trees.
10. Increased Almond Demand
A final reason almond butter is expensive is that almonds are in high demand.
Almonds make everything from almond milk to almond ice cream.
It’s in shampoo and other beauty products as well.
Because many people are turning to almond products as a way to live healthier and cut down on climate change, it means the demand has risen.
With supply remaining about the same, the increased demand has led to increased prices.
Unless more almond farms open up to meet that demand, prices will likely remain.
You might also say that almonds are trending for the moment.
There’s also a chance that a new vegetable or nut will take center stage.
When that happens, the price for almond products might decrease as demand for that new item increases.
As such, some almond farmers might be looking to make good on their investments while they can.
Almond butter is expensive because it, and other almond products, are in higher demand than supply.
Almond butter is an expensive type of butter when compared to peanut butter and dairy butter.
There are many environmental reasons behind the high prices as well as theft.
While demand for almond products remains high, the price will likely also remain high.