CatZinfo dried fruits & nuts

Though most markets are still ‘flat’, we do see more activities. Especially on the spot markets a longer period of ‘wait-and-see’ from the buyers is now being replaced by active buying on the spot now stocks are running low.

After the uncertainty about the consequences of a Brexit for our trade, the newly trade war initiated by Mr. Trump is a new challenge. Up to now it is not yet under control, now China has announced counter measurements by imposing extra tariffs on (a.o.) nuts and fruits. China being an important market for almonds and walnuts, may buy much less in the near future. However it is too early to make an educated guess on the consequences for the markets in the products concerned.

The dollar is firming somewhat against the euro lately and another remarkable development we notice for the Turkish Lira against the dollar, passing the US$/YTL 4,– threshold.

Dried Fruits

Apricots

Though unexpected in view of the weather forecasts, some night frost was observed last Tuesday night in some regions around Malatya. Some shippers immediately came with this ‘breaking news’, obviously to talk the market higher. Though it was no modern fake news, rather swift it turned out to have hit only some orchards at higher altitudes and not similar to the situation 4 years ago, when almost the complete crop was destroyed.

Though false alarm, it shows the sensitive market circumstances at the moment. Also the risk of frost exists till the end of the month. However current forecast seem to be in favour of good conditions. First reports speak about a lighter fruit set on the trees, which seems logical after the good crop of 2017 with ‘tired’ trees. It will mean (in theory) a more equal spread in sizing. Shipments are up by over 15% at slightly higher prices compared to last year. This last element is somewhat disguised by the weaker Turkish Lira, as on the local market prices are firmer traded in the local currency.

Apples The slow shipments from China are taking their toll on the spot market in Europe. Stocks are very low and prices increasing. For spot material obviously because of the shortage of material; in origin because of lack of product, which now has to be kept in coldstores, increasing its cost price.

Banana chips

Most shippers have increased their prices due to limited availability of the green bananas at the moment. Increased demand from several markets and full production schedules is causing a firmer market at the moment. Some cheaper positions will be sold quickly as stocks are limited in Europe.

Cranberries

If Europe remains exempted from the tariff increase by the US, the EU may maintain the 0% duty on the dried cranberries for further processing. At this moment this exemption for Europe is only granted till May 1. In case Mr. Trump changes his mind (not very uncommon) Europe will impose also some tariffs and cranberries may be a victim….

Another issue is the proposed withholding of 15% by handlers, which now has been approved by USDA. This was proposed before the reduction of the crop 2017 by about 17% was known. So in this tighter market an additional 15% will be taken out of the market, which will definitely mean a firm direction of prices in the coming year.

Currants

The situation on currants is “to have, or not to have”. Greece is virtually sold and stocks are in the hands of traders. Prices are firm with only limited offers.

South-Africa has sold its entire crop rather quickly, though with only 1500 to 2000 tons of very small sized fruit and an empty market, this cannot be a surprise.

Pineapple/Papaya

No major changes to report for the tropical fruits.

Prunes

Chile is ruling the world market for dried prunes. It has taken over the position of France and California. The available quantity has risen each year and with the advantage of no duty it has knocked out California in the last few years. The last origin suffered from a bad crop last year with high prices, which could by no way compete with the Chilean offers.

This year the Chilean crop again is good and we see even some slightly lower prices compared to last year’s levels. For time being all sizes are well available.

Raisins California not only has a smaller crop, also the quality is affected. The traditional way of drying Thompsons on paper within the orchards was harmed by some heavy rains during drying. It seems over 30% is rejected for reasons of too much sand and grit, as well as rotten material due to high moisture. More and more farmers will probably switch to drying on the vine (DOV) in the coming years.

Needless to say shippers are careful not to oversell and offering just one or two loads each time. Prices are up by almost a dollar per pound (or + euro 1,80 a kilo!!) compared to half year ago. It also made South-Africa to be sold very quickly on Thompsons, also because they were relatively competitive on pricing, though way above last year’s prices as well. (There must be a lot of happy farmers in SA….).

In Turkey prices have firmed in spite of the weaker Turkish Lira. Of course the firm price levels of the Thompsons is pushing up those of sultanas as well, though not a one-on-one substitute.

Prices in Chile have firmed as well, though Chile is mainly selling their jumbo sizes on the European market. Jumbo goldens are almost unavailable and at highest price in history.

Nuts

Walnuts

Prices from California are stable at the moment. Though buyers are still buying hardly anything, the Californian have sold well in the beginning and have confidence they will sell out the crop before the new one knocks on the door.

The price gap between the limited available pieces and darker material compared to the higher end product like Chandlers 80% LHP is getting tighter.

Chile started optimistic with rather high levels for their top products like extra light handcracked material and bigger sizes of in shells. However they also encounter low interest from the traditional buying markets for same reasons as the Californians do: buyers have the feeling there is enough supply and stocks in Europe are sufficient for time being.