For nearly one hundred years walnut growers sold their produce through a cooperative they controlled. They determined that they would need help in marketing to get a larger share of the burgeoning snack foods market. So they merged with Stockton-based, Diamond Foods.
The 18-hundred members of the cooperative received stock from the merger, so thus far the decision to merge has been a profitable one.
Kenny Watkins, a sixth-generation grower from Linden, was reluctant to relinquish control to Diamond, but thinks he'll wind up with more money in his pockets.
"If we can increase profits by being able to get into the snack market business that will be an offset and it will make it worth it."
Cynthia Wagner Weick, a Professor of Management at University of the Pacific, says Diamond Foods faces some stiff competition from companies like Kraft and Planters, but the challenges aren't insurmountable.
"If they can use the resources they have gained in the next few years they can gain a foothold in that market."
Securities and Exchange Commission rules bar Diamond Foods' executives from commenting on the I-P-O at this time.