CatZinfo – dried fruits and nuts

Continuous demand for especially spot material keeps the trade busy. More and more we notice short supply on the local market as stocks in the chain are minimal. This all caused by the earlier reported mentioned careful approach of most buyers, in anticipation of (hopefully) lower prices in some markets for dried fruits and nuts.

Nowadays we must hold as well an eye on the developments in Brussel. The war on tariffs may take us by surprise any moment. For time being EU has been exempted from tariffs on steel and aluminium, but in case Mr. Trump will change his mind (not unusual…), we may expect especially on agricultural products some import tariffs for Californian products as well.

Also the re-assessment of MRL’s for some pesticides may jeopardize trading of some products (iprodione f.e.). As well the proposed maximum levels for Ochratoxin A (OTA) for other dried fruits than dried grapes, nuts and some seeds, may complicate trading.

Another element playing an important role in the last days is the volatility of the currencies. The dollar getting stronger against the euro, but also against the Turkish Lira (over 3% weaker against the dollar in one day (May 3rd) gives calculations a short ‘shelf life’.

Dried Fruits

Apricots
The minimal frost has had hardly any effect on the market development of the Turkish apricots. The new crop is starting to show its first signs on the trees and it is expected to be a normal crop with all sizes more equally divided. For the current crop the tonnage left may seem adequate to meet demand till the new crop arrives, however the majority of the fruit is small sized and of doubtful quality. We may see some bottlenecks in the availability of anything bigger than type 5 apricots towards the end of the season.

Apples
The market in China remains firm now stocks not only came down but also are now held in coldstores, making costprice anyhow higher. No real news yet for the Chilean apples. The crop seems to be okay, but Chile has outpriced itself for the European market, so there are not a lot of marketing activities (and consequently less market information) from the exporters.

Banana chips
Still a tight supply of the green bananas used to produce the Philippine chips. Good sales for the Asian and Muslim festivals makes sellers to feel confident to maintain their higher prices.

Cranberries
No changes to report: firmer prices now production and sales have been restricted. The American industry is shooting in their own foot. Now the market is empty, the taken measurements to limit supply, accelerate the increase in prices, whereas they could have sold some additional product.

Currants
With only some limited offers from Greece as sole supplier today, prices are rapidly increasing. On top the eventual alternative like small Thompson raisins are expensive as well.

Pineapple/Papaya
No hick ups in this market. Supply can meet demand and the only problem is the slow shipments with stocks in Europe low. So we see a kind of two tier market, with premium prices on the spot and easier pricing in origin.

Prunes
The weaker Chilean peso makes pricing of prunes a little easier. However this might only be temporarily, as sales are going well with Chile almost the sole supplier in Europe, since California became too expensive and lost quite some market share. Some shippers report being sold already of certain sizes.

Raisins
Due to the fixation of the Iranian currency in order to make daily living for the Iranian people a little more cheaper and keep them satisfied. The exporters are the victim, as prices are getting out of pace and not accepted by even the most fanatic buyers of Iranian product.

For dried grapes it means f.e. the golden raisins are priced over 30% of the South African choice(!) quality. A similar discrepancy we see for sultanas, being way more expensive than the traditional Turkish competition.

This gives way for the Turkish exporters to stay firm in their pricing, in spite of the weaker Turkish Lira. If we do the maths on the figures and assume a steady export on same level till end of the season, we may be left with only a marginal carry-out. It must be said these are Turkish assumptions, so at the end we may still see somewhat bigger quantities left, but it shows the self-confidence of the Turkish industry. Those in the driver seat rule the market!

Next to this the high prices for Thompsons from California and to a lesser extent from South Africa (but meanwhile sold) allows the Turkish exporters to act rigid. Chile for once has opened at attractive prices and meanwhile has sold well on the jumbo sizes. Jumbo goldens are nearly sold and now offered at record prices; jumbo flames and thompsons still available but 10/15% higher than the opening prices.

Nuts

Almonds
Recently the NASS presented their acreage report.  This figure was below the earlier unofficial estimate ventilated in the market (for which many had been waiting so long to have direction!). As the multiplier is big these days, it makes logically a difference in the total estimate of the crop.   Market reacted on the NASS estimate and prices moved up based on active trading Now the EUR/USD exchange rate is less favourable, trade in EU is slower but prices are holding.  We have seen good shipping figures last months and this is expected to continue proving that the price level is acceptable for the product. We see some combinations of variety/grade/size are already more difficult to find which could already indicate a future mismatch in what buyers need and what is available.

Brazilnuts
Many hoped that the brazilnut market would soften further during April, but shipping issues and cancelled departures of vessels from origin caused the spot and nearby market to remain very tight. We expect the market to remain tight for the remainder of this month as well. At origin we see stability for the 2nd half of the year with progressive discounts for later positions throughout the year.  We visited the Amazon last month and supply of brazil nuts have definitely been restored. After the difficult season of 2017 the market seem to return to the peaceful and easy days again. At least for some time. One should wary prices will bottom out rather sooner than later and the production of trees for 2019 season is for the next 6 to 8 months an open chapter.

Cashews
On our trip to numerous cashew areas during last month, it shows the spring harvests are already coming to an end. The total cashew supply in terms of inshell nut is most likely sufficient to meet the world demand this year. There are definitely no bumper crops this season and the quality outturn in many places is rather disappointing compared to last year, but as we estimate that annual growth of world consumption could slow down somewhat, the price trend may continue sideways to slightly bullish. The market is moderately active and several retail tenders are out in the EU in the meantime.

Groundnuts
A lot of pressure on Argentina new crop and many quality and shipping problems emerging on the horizon. The prices are firming up.

Pecans
Although the current period is not really “pecan time” and demand is slow, prices are stable.  Some packers are reporting they are not willing to offer pecan halves at the moment and others therefore now shifting to a somewhat higher prices level for deliveries later this year. USA still trusts they can move a good part of the volume into China (if necessary through various creative channels), despite the uncertain environment as China reacting with higher import duties on various USA products against the earlier duties on Chinese steel.

Walnuts
The decrease of prices seems to stop at the moment. Many shippers have only left some odd containers with low grade material or just one load of halves. The lack of demand has made them lower the prices from opening prices, but now are picked up by the market, realizing still 6 months to go (at least) till the new crop arrives on the market. Adding the fact the stocks in Europe are low because of the wait-and-see attitude of most buyers so far, we may see some reverse developments in the near future.

A similar story we see from Chile: prices came down but are now accepted simply because buyers need product.