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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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Plant-based diets and healthier snack alternatives exploded over the last two decades, and with that, a dramatic increase in the worldwide consumption of protein-packed almonds. California almond growers, who produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds, are dedicated to keeping pace with demand, resulting in almonds being in first place amongst California’s agricultural exports.

Blue Diamond Growers, a Northern California cooperative, is the world’s largest processor and distributor of almonds, with $1.5 billion in annual revenue. With end-to-end business efficiencies made possible by the company’s digital transformation, the 3000+ grower-members and 1800+ employees can seamlessly supply 750+ Blue Diamond-branded almond products and almond materials to more than 80 countries all over the globe. Blue Diamond’s spirit of innovation is also evident in the first Almond Innovation Center, which is dedicated to developing new products to maximize profits for growers while feeding the appetites of both their B2C and B2B customers.

Blue Diamond embarked on their digital transformation journey not long ago to update the over century-old operations and global supply chain.

Eliminating Bottlenecks

Any supply chain can experience disruption from internal and external factors. For Blue Diamond, that can encompass variables, including production to processing, bees to barges, climate challenges, and market and customer demands.

Formerly mired in spreadsheets and laborious logistics, Blue Diamond began their transformation with SAP HANA Cloud and SAP Analytics Cloud, allowing the company to digitize its processes and create a consolidated, comprehensive view through dashboards and control panels. Gone were the days when customer service representatives had to scour ten different systems and data sources to respond to an order status query.

Then came Covid-19. Drastic fluctuations in supply and demand, limited and unreliable transportation, congested ports, and anxious consumers created a new sense of urgency for Blue Diamond’s logistical operations. Although the company had already made significant headway with automating and streamlining its logistics and planning, the supply chain havoc highlighted areas for improvement. With SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), Blue Diamond was able to take their digital transformation to the next level by filling in gaps.

“Everything is about getting the products to customers,” Steven Birgfeld, VP of Information Technology and Services at Blue Diamond Growers, explained. It is no small feat when your supply is contingent on the unpredictability of Mother Nature. “Managing supply logistics through the dynamics of droughts, fires, and too much rain creates many challenges.” Thanks to the integrated SAP ecosystem, Blue Diamond now has the forecasting capabilities and the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in supply and demand, no matter what curveballs come their way.

Delivering the Health Benefits of Almonds Around the World
Blue Diamond’s digital transformation with SAP BTP, including SAP Build Process Automation and SAP Signavio, has resulted in various measurable benefits for this intelligent, data-driven cooperative. The company has saved $1 million in annual transportation logistics, reduced supply on hand by 20%, and benefits from a 40% reduction in financial closing time.

In addition to those impressive metrics, Birgfeld pointed to “the time savings and the process improvements we provide to our team members thanks to a decision to leverage the SAP ecosystem and share data and insights with customers.” Improved planning and forecasting tools and the ability to quickly re-book cargo shipments allowed Blue Diamond to dodge the rampant shortages and disruptions caused by worldwide supply issues and ocean freight delays.

Aiming for Continuous Optimization
For Blue Diamond, digital transformation is an ongoing process. Birgfeld explained, “We’ve laid this great foundation to be resilient and to flex accordingly as the world changes, but it’s a continuous journey. It’s continuous optimization.” For organizations embarking on a digital transformation of their own, Birgfeld offers sage advice - “Strong partnerships are key. Build a roadmap. Leverage the tools. Refine the roadmap. Repeat.”

As for where Blue Diamond is looking to innovate next, “We’re looking at everything from crop forecasting to demand sensing to logistics analytics,” Birgfeld said—the AI frontier beckons.

The Full Episode
Our guest from Blue Diamond Growers, Steven Birgfeld, VP of Information Technology and Services, joined SAP BTP Better Together: Customer Conversations to discuss how Blue Diamond continues to innovate their operations and supply chain.

  • Thought Leadership Podcast: Thulium's CEO, Tamara McCleary, sat down with Birgfeld to discuss the reasons that necessitated change for the world’s largest almond cooperative.

  • Practitioners’ Video: Then I sat down with Birgfeld to hear about how Blue Diamond Growers digitally transformed the business and supply chain. And how SAP partnered with them to bring their vision to fruition.

Interested in more stories that feature organizations innovating to build a world-class supply chain?

·       ACA: Digitalizing agriculture management to grow more efficient, profitable, and sustainable crops

·       Areas: Delivering trusted insights to improve financial decisions at the top management level

For the full episode and the on-demand SAP BTP Better Together: Customer Conversations series, please visit