CatZinfo – dried fruits & nuts
In our last CatZinfo of 2018, we cannot but conclude it was another exciting year. In this part we may well summarize some external factors such as currencies and politics.
The euro vs. the US-dollar actually was not that volatile with a high of almost 1,25 early Feb compared to a recent low of 1,13. We have seen more volatile years. This cannot be said of the Turkish Lira against the US-dollar starting the year at a level of 3,80, developing to the weakest point at US$/YTL 6,95 end of this summer and now easing back to around 5,35. It meant calculating and selling in dollars (most common for the Turkish exporters) became rather a gamble.
As for politics we can mention Brexit and Mr. Trump. May the outcome of Brexit still be unpredictable, same applies for the behaviour of Mr. Trump in announcing all kind of unexpected tariffs, which were answered by the countries concerned by retaliation measures with rather big consequences for certain markets. Another subject is the review of the MRL’s for pesticides by Brussels. Meanwhile a couple of these have been banned or will be banned and having its consequence for certain products (Chlorpyrifos, Iprodione, etc.) This subject for sure also in the future will have a big impact on our trade, same as other quality issues still gaining importance. Sustainable and social/ethical issues are the next challenges.
When coming to the products themselves, we would describe 2018 as a ‘careful’ year. In view of the many uncertain elements buyers where mainly buying hand-to-mouth. Prices of many products in our field of business weakened somewhat, so waiting sometimes paid off, though we also had some bullish markets like apples and raisins.
Apricots The crop was good and prices remained stable this year. At the moment there seems to be less and less good quality material available, so we do expect some firmer prices in the second half of the season. Of course the bloom-period will be crucial (frost or no frost).
Not being the most volatile product, this year the prices of Chinese dried apples exploded after a bad crop and drastic environmental measurements for the producing factories. First shipments of the new crop were later, causing some empty pipelines in Europe. Alternatives like Chile or Italy are still way more expensive.
Not too many price fluctuations this year, though at the moment we see some firmer trend as local demand is heavy now bananas are seen as one of the cheaper food products for fresh consumption. Also demand for the Asian festivals early next year are pushing the market up.
Cranberries 2018 was the year finally the change came. After many years of structural low prices, making it for farmers and processors actually not worthwhile to produce, we noticed a considerable increase in pricing. Reasons were the decision of some farmers not to cultivate their blogs anymore (or at least partly), a shorter crop and withholding of product by the processors.
The Greek industry was sold pretty early in the season, which made prices go up. Also, the crop 2018 is short and many exporters are not offering at all. We may see some relief from South-Africa, but the quantity is too small to have much influence and besides will not be that big the coming crop (early 2019).
Prices of most tropical products (except coconut and mango) moved sideways with a slightly weaker undertone. Shipments however were slow so in Europe prices remained pretty much the same. Meanwhile due to heavy demand for the winter period, we see some shorts on spot material and prices increasing for spot material.
Actually, a dull year for the prunes. Prices for the Chilean products remained pretty stable and were available till end of this year. Californian prices were still high in price compared to the Chilean origin, but started to show some weakening.
Somewhat more activity in the Turkish sultanas: The crop was a little disappointing, but this was somewhat compensated by the weaker Turkish Lire. Now the value improved somewhat, we see a firmer trend in the pricing of sultanas. Iran is not a (serious) player at the moment. A political embargo on the payments to Iran made it rather complicated to do business and on top the fixed exchange rate which the government imposed works out rather unfavorable for the exporters.
South-Africa was sold pretty soon on Thompsons at higher levels, triggered by very firm prices from California. Goldens were still available till autumn this year, but meanwhile sold as well. For the new crop we may expect again a somewhat higher volume from South-Africa, but demand is good and California still at a higher level, so we may see even higher opening prices from South-Africa in January.
Californian prices are easing somewhat, but are still the most expensive for the natural Thompsons, quantity wise the largest volume. Chile is heading for a decent crop as well, but it is expected there will be fewer jumbo sizes available. First shipment may be expected in Feb/Mar.
The tariffs for walnuts imposed by the larger importers of Californian walnuts (China/India/Turkey) in combination with a bigger crop expectation for 2018, made prices gradually drop during the past year. Consequently buyers were buying only hand-to-mouth, which made some of the sellers a little nervous and prices had to come down considerably in order to move the crop 2017 an end in a smooth transition with a comfortable carry-out. Another element for the Californians are the increasing quantities from Chile. This year the total crop from Chile will be around 150K tons, a quantity which has its impact on the supply side and for the coming years expected to grow even further as we can see the new orchards planted in Chile. Also, quality wise the Chilean product can meet – if not beat – the Californian product, which cannot be said from Eastern European or Indian origins. In the long run we may see Chile become the market leader – an equal development we have seen with prunes – as they shall have to be cheaper to move the larger quantities.
We hope the CatZinfo has been a useful tool for you and we are planning to continue in the coming year in the same way. Also we hope to assist you in your purchasing decisions in 2019 with solid advises and as reliable partner.
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!!
December 20th, 2018