One of my all-time favorite healthy snacks has got to be almonds. Besides tasting good and being great to take on-the-go (they aren't called "your favorite easy snack" for nothing), they have some awesome health benefits such as lowering cholesterol levels, reducing cancer risks, improved heart health, containing high levels of vitamin E, and much more.

However, whenever I find myself going into the store to purchase a bag of them, I wince a bit from how pricy they can be. A 14 oz. package of Blue Dimond almonds can cost upwards of six dollars at certain retailers. So why are almonds so expensive? And is there any way to get them for cheaper? 

Where do they come from? 

The United States dominates the almond growing market, producing 2,002,742 tons annually. Most grown in the US come from California, which actually produces 82% of the world's share. Almond trees thrive in regions with a Mediterranean-type climate and fertile soil, so California makes a perfect environment to farm and harvest these nuts. Overall, demand domestically comes from new trends in snacking healthily and foreign interest from countries like China and India

Besides the United States, the next three biggest producers of almonds are Spain, Iran, and Morocco. All three have Mediterranian-type climates as well, plus, items like almond butter are widely popular in these countries. 

What does it take to harvest them? 

Even though the Golden State produces a ton of almonds, they are not the easiest to harvest. The Almond Board of California describes the almond lifecycle in eight different steps: downtime, bloom, pollination, growing up, cracking open, harvest, shelling & sizing, and storage.

To summarize, when the weather is cold (November through February), almond trees are dormant and will not be receptive to pollination until their flowers bloom (late February through early March). During the pollination phase, bees aid in the process and initiate crop development. After four months of development, the fruit that surrounds the almond (which means they are technically seeds, not nuts) opens. A special type of machine will "shake" each tree to remove the seeds from the fruits. The almonds are taken to a sorting facility that cleans them to be safe for eating, then the nuts are packaged and shipped to retail stores across the globe. 

Since this is an extensive process (versus other nuts like peanuts), almonds tend to be more on the costly side. Also, other factors such as droughts in California will drive almond prices higher than normal. 

How does the price compare around the world? 

Price varies on the farm practices, but a pound of almonds from California can cost $8.33 (about $18.51 per kilogram). 

Around the world, the pricing differs based on country of origin. In 2015, a kilogram of Spanish almonds costs, on average, 12.52 euros ($14.63). In Iran, almonds can cost anywhere from 2900 to 3400 rupees ($42.73 to $50.10) per kilogram. Moroccan almonds price from $25 to $26 per kilogram. 

Can you get them for cheaper? 

Since you will not have much luck in finding cheaper almonds abroad, purchasing them domestically is the way to go. In fact, there are a few ways you can get your almond fix with California almonds. 

First of all, this is probably a no-brainer, but purchasing the nuts through off-brands will be cheaper, (In the end, it's the same product with not as much advertising.) A 14 oz. of Walmart's Great Value almonds cost $5.94, which is cheaper than the six dollar bag of Blue Diamond previously mentioned. Secondly, buying in bulk from a wholesaler will save you in the long run. Treehouse's natural almonds in bulk cost $5.15 per pound, whereas a pound of the Great Value almonds, based on the price per ounce, will cost about $6.78. 

Just because almonds can be pricey at face value doesn't mean you can't find other ways to purchase them for prices that are more budget-friendly. So don't give up this healthy snack just yet as being shopping savvy will help you save on these nuts in the long run.