CATZINFO – DRIED FRUITS & WALNUTS

In China the Corona-virus ‘seems’(!) to draw back somewhat, whereas in Europe we are confronted with a rapidly increasing number of affected people for time being.
Apart from the measurements in daily live we notice, also in our trade we cannot ignore the impact of the virus on trading in agricultural products.
We notice the logistic problems, especially from the Asian area, as ships are stuck in ports and shipment schedules are disrupted.
Chinese producers lack manpower in the factories, but also in surrounding countries containment measurements take their toll and slow down production.
Gradually we may see a shortage in some products when stocks are not replenished adequately. Not only for food, but also one must think about i.e. packing material!
Secondly there is the psychological effect: buyers are holding back for future contracts as nobody knows exactly what will happen and how long it will take.
Also demand on some markets will decrease and in the case of an important market like China certain suppliers will get nervous and find other homes for their product
For sure: the longer it takes, the more damage we will see with in some cases dramatic developments.
At the moment the crops from Southern Hemisphere become available and negotiations have started
The tensions in Syria have weakened the rate of the Turkish Lira against the dollar, which in turn meanwhile has weakened the last days against the euro, but very gradually.


Dried Fruits

Apples
Luckily the greater part of the new crop (2019) has been shipped before the outbreak of the Corona-virus in China.
However with the disruptions nowadays, it will certainly give some bottlenecks for some of the varieties.
Shipments came almost to a standstill as Chinese ports are blocked either by authorities or simply because there are no workers yet.
It is hoped for in this month the workers will come back gradually to the factories, but almost sure Q1 is lost for a normal production output
This will certainly put some pressure on the still available stocks in Europe, where we see prices firming.

Apricots
All eyes are looking for the new crop, which may bring some change in this dull market.
Though shipments go at a steady pace and no worries for a huge carry-out, demand has fallen and shippers aggressively looking for buyers.
On the other hand farmers sitting on their stocks, as they still have some hope for some night frost during bloom and a smaller crop at higher prices.
These two elements hold the market in balance, with slightly more attractive prices due to the weaker Turkish Lira.
All sizes well available, but organic and natural apricots are hard to find.

Banana chips
There has been some easier undertones on the market as the Chinese market was largely shut, but sales to Europe were good due to the tight stock situation over here.
The shortage of the green bananas will become a problem, now the first signs are there, that the Chinese market might get more active to compensate the low shipments lately.
If all will get back to normal, supply cannot meet demand and we foresee again a firmer market

Cranberries
Not many changes to report. The cranberry industry for shore has found a way to make better prices, which was in fact a natural development, as it was in the last years hardly worthwhile for farmers and industry to cultivate or process cranberries in view of the low prices. Meanwhile supply of sliced cranberries is even difficult and prices for this product have increased rapidly, which we suppose will continue at least till the end of this season.

Currants
The opening prices for the South-African currants (crop expected to be slightly over 3000 mtons) are well above the Greek levels.
These have gradually come down after last season’s higher levels, now supply is better this crop year.

Pineapple/Papaya/Mango
The pineapple crop (the second crop) is about to begin and will end somewhere in May. Due to the drought raw material will remain short and in combination with a high demand, which cannot be fulfilled, prices for especially the ‘core’ pineapple continue to rise. We do not foresee any improvement till at least the next (first) crop in October. However we fear even a good crop then, will not be sufficient to refill the almost complete empty pipeline.
On the spot pineapple is hardly to find and as shipment are delayed and quantities under contract reduced, we may face a difficult situation for a long time.
Papaya will be available, however prices firmer as it I sometimes used as an alternative for the pineapple, for example in mixes the percentage of papaya is increased as pineapple not available.
The mango season has started and prices stable.  All other product as well available except for ginger, which is running short and offered sometimes with reduced quantities.
As new crop will start only in August, we may well recommend to have  look at your needs till Q4.

Prunes
The Chilean harvest has started and the general remark is, that small fruits will be relatively less available. The yield is as expected and no major problems foreseen.
Pricing for the new crop is more or less a continuation of the last year’s level. So far we do not expect surprises and see a stable market, where demand will be the key player.

Raisins
The South African crop is half way. Some local rains in the last weeks caused a somewhat smaller crop than anticipated, but still a little more than last year.
Due to the rains the goldens will not be produced as abundant as thought, whereas the natural Thompsons are less produced as expected, due to the low prices (which now are pretty attractive).
Jumbo sizes might be even a little scarce as prices for fresh grapes are high and some farmers have chosen to go for that option instead of drying.
In Chile we see as well less jumbo sized raisins due to the drought earlier in the season. Also genuine flame raisins will be less available as this cultivar is replaced by less vulnerable varieties.
Californian prices for Thompsons remain priceworthy as well, as they cannot afford to have a big gap with the South African levels, where also some crop 2019 is still for sale.
Turkish prices remain flat as well with not much activity as usual at this time of the year. Iran seems to be out of competition in the Western markets due to all restriction to pay to this country.


Nuts

Walnuts
Usually the Chilean opening prices are usually announced in Dubai during the Gulfood Fair. Due to the uncertainty about the Chinese/Asian markets, most shippers preferred to wait.
The crop anyhow will start end of this month/April and as early shipments will be too late for the again earlier Ramadan period, no rush is necessary. First indication however are for same levels as last year.
If this level will be sustainable now Californian prices softened lately, will be the question. The Californian shippers were very active offering at more attractive prices as they prefer to ship, rather than to hold stocks.
Demand however is slow, but we see at the lower levels some business is done, as buyers had already for a longer time a ‘wait-and-see’ strategy and warehouses running empty.
Remaining inventory is manageable for the shippers, so we may see a steady market towards the end of the season.