CatZinfo – dried fruits & nuts

With a number of markets moving ‘side ways’, business is concentrating on spot deals as most buyers holding back for the longer term. As a result, stocks are low as not being replenished and we notice some shortages on the spot.

Important news from Brussels. First of all, the US have decided to exclude the EU from the higher tariff on steel and aluminium. The EU was preparing a list to retaliate, on which a.o. dried cranberries were mentioned. This product now favouring of a suspension of import duties, could have been subject to a higher tariff. Now Europe is excluded for the extra tariff on steel and aluminium, it may be expected EU will not anymore present a list in a counter attack.

Secondly there is news on the pesticide Ipodrione, used a.o. at the cultivation of grapes (i.c. raisins). In short: the MRL will be brought down to practically non-detectable (LOD). No agreement was reached on the grace period for products brought on the market already. This date was intended to be June 8th 2018, but is now postponed in anticipation of a new vote on the subject. Expected timeline now is a new vote in September and Publication early 2019.

Dried Fruits

Apricots

So far so good with regard to the temperatures at night in Malatya. For the next 14 days no frost is expected, so the early bloom has more and more chance not to be hit by night frosts. Certainly the risk is not over yet as frost may occur till late April. Of course, this is good news and will prevent to have a market on fire. Nevertheless, the market remains firm as the quantity of good and bigger sized apricots is getting low. On average there is a lot of small fruits and we see a bigger gap on pricing between everything bigger than no. 5 and smaller. Also for good quality a premium must be paid. For this reason, we dare say that cheap prices at this moment may turn out to be an expensive lesson!

Apples

The backlog in shipments due to the environmental requirements for the factories is paying its toll on the spot market. Stocks are low and becoming expensive in the second hand. Also, prices from origin are firming rapidly, also because further production must come from apples out of the more expensive cold store. First news from Chile for the coming crop are not that optimistic. First indications are consequently for higher prices in the coming season.

Banana chips

The market for bananachips has been rather unclear. Prices eased somewhat and buyers waiting, also because there was not much activity due to the Asian festivals. As a result, now also stocks in Europe are low and it will take some weeks before new shipment will bring relief. New demand is picking up for the Philippine bananachips; a fact noticed by the shippers in origin as well…..

Cranberries

Good news with regard to cranberries as (probably) not subject anymore as a product on the EU ‘revenge list’. This however will not prevent the market to increase further. As mentioned in our earlier reports, there is a structural firming of the prices as production (or anyhow availability) is limited. Shippers have a waiting list for new orders at the moment and feel stronger every day. Mind you we are not yet at the levels of some years ago, so if covering is needed, we suggest to act swiftly.

Currants

With Greece practically sold, there was some hope for South African product. However, the crop was a disaster with only 50% of last year’s crop and on top very small fruits, though of good quality. Prices compared to last year have increased tremendously and meanwhile South-Africa is sold completely.

Pineapple/Papaya

Except for coconut, which remains firm, available quantities for most tropical products from Thailand will be able to match demand. Prices will hopefully remain stable after having dropped already in the last months in anticipation of adequate supply. A factor which may influence pricing can be the rate of the Thai Bath against the US-dollar.
As always there may be some hick ups in shipments from Thailand, so spot material may be scarce all of a sudden.

Prunes

The size and the quality of the Chilean crop is good, though somewhat later harvested. Prices are somewhat more relaxed than last year’s ending. All sizes are still available.
First business has been concluded and we expect first arrivals of the new crop in May to arrive in Europe.

Raisins

It seems the buyers have to digest to substantial increase for the Thompson raisins worldwide. Trading is slow and limited as buyers wish to see how sustainable these levels are. For time being the suppliers are in the driver seat. After the failure crop in California, where prices rose by 50%, other origins followed the new levels as far as possible. Even Turkish sultanas increased quite a bit, though not a one-on-one substitute for Thompson raisins.

It was expected South-Africa would come in the market with their 2018 crop at higher levels and indeed they met these expectations. Luckily the crop was good in SA. Also for goldens the quality is superb, which on the other hand means there will likely be no (cheaper) standard material on the market other than an odd container.

Another issue is the lack of jumbo raisins: after attractive opening prices from Chile for Jumbo Flames, prices increased as it turned out the size of the fruits was less than expected.

When the goldens came off the fields, this was known and after last year’s already high level for jumbo goldens, this year prices beat that record. Same applies for South-Africa, where shippers are even not yet offering jumbo goldens until they are sure they may have 1 or 2 loads to sell for the whole season!!

Nuts

Walnuts

California is trying to sell their light halves at somewhat easier levels. Contrary to pieces and darker combo qualities, which are somewhat scarcer. Buyers in general being well stocked are not in a hurry to step in yet.

Chilean opening prices were quite high and way above the Californian prices. Enforced by some early sales at the Gulfair, shippers were confident to sell rapidly. However, buyers also in this market are suspicious, having in mind the words of the Californians at the opening of the season: ‘we do not see a downside’…….