The year 2021 started with some active markets in our scope of business.
Partly because of the new crops on the Southern Hemisphere are around the corner, partly because consumption was good in December and buyers still covered prudentially in view of the pandemic situation, but now see empty warehouses.
On top we have to cope with a logistic disruption in the ocean shipments, due to an unbalance in the containers available in certain areas in combination with criminal increases of the freight rates by the shipping lines.
As a result stock positions in Europe in some cases are rather low.
To summarize: never a dull moment these days!

Unfortunately the situation caused by the pandemic is not yet improving, now all kind of mutated viruses require further lockdowns and also in our country we will have a curfew starting this weekend.
The good news is the vaccination has started and may end the pandemic, but we still have to cope for at least a couple of weeks, if not months, before we may see some detention in the measurements.
Of course most and for all for the people themselves, but also on the economic level a swift restart is needed, as at the end a bill has to be paid.
We may say however that the food-segment – apart from the foodservice – has been lucky and actually has had a situation of ‘business as usual’ in spite of COVID-19.

Though a new president in the US and Brexit are not small things, we do not see much changes in our daily business, at least not on the short term.
The rate of the dollar, though somewhat more volatile, is moving in a narrow range lately, whereas the Turkish Lira seems to gain some strength again.


Dried Fruits

Arrivals of the Chinese new crop apples have eased the market somewhat in Europe. However levels in origin are well above last year’s pricing.
Supply is sufficient and till the summer we do not expect too much problems, but as usual towards the new crop, supply will be down as producing from cold store apples is more costly.

Gradually the short crop works out in the pricing. Certainly now demand is picking up due to Ramadan, prices are firming.
Farmers wait to bring their material to the (local) market as they expect of course higher prices in view of the limited availability of dried apricots.
Most sizes are still well available. Waiting is for the bloom period around March and the weather at that time.
If frost will occur, for sure after a small crop an expected and again smaller crop will cause some panic.
We expect towards the end of the season anyhow some firmer prices, simply because of lack of dried apricots due to this small crop 2020.

Banana chips
Next to the firm pricing of the Philippine bananas themselves, the unprecedented increase of the freight rates cause a substantial upcharge in pricing.
Also the continuous delays of shipments due to lack of containers is causing further problems for the industries and traders in Europe, as it is hard to meet commitments.
First defaults have been reported and once more it has paid off to buy from a solid partner.
We expect the higher freight rates will remain still for the coming period and only gradually will come back to acceptable levels.
Also the shortage of the green bananas will persist for a while and we see no decline in prices or more availability at least for the next half year

The autumn crop in Thailand of pineapple was less than hoped for as this might have eased down somewhat the high prices.
A better crop was expected to bring prices down, though opening prices were anyhow high due to the shortage of the previous crop.
Prices will remain firm at least till the next crop in Feb/Mar ’21.
Also from Thailand freight rates increased tremendously, which is coming on top of the product-prices obviously.
Also papaya crop was disappointing and will remain in short supply till next crop end of this year.
The mango crop looks okay but we will know for sure in March, when the new crop will be harvested.

Bad news from South-Africa. The pears have been hit by some hail storms in certain areas and the product will be short again this year.
For sure the crop will be sold again very fast.
With canning factories who hoped for a better year as well, competition for the pears will be heavy and consequently cost price for the processors high.
Peaches will also not have an abundant harvest, but less problematic

The Chilean harvest of the prunes has started. A new record crop was expected, but it looks like we will be heading to more or less same quantity like last season.
The previous crop was sold very well with a carry out not worth mentioning. So this new crop will come into a practically empty market and it needs not much imagination what this will mean for the prices.
Also it is expected the demand for the fresh prunes from the Asian markets – where demand is reaching pre-COVID-levels – will limit the quantities for the drying industries.
Most shippers are still reluctant to offer, but first indications indeed point to a firmer market with less prunes available.

TMO has bought up to 70K, which caused a firm pricing in Turkish Lira at  the Boursa.
This material needs to be sold one or the other day, but not known when this will be as the Turkish government can afford to have this quantity lying in the warehouses and bringing nothing and wait till the right moment.
With still 7 or 8 months to go till the new crop, a hand to mouth buying seems to be appropriate.
However one must keep an eye on the rate of the Turkish Lira against the US-dollar, which can be rather volatile and cause substantial fluctuations in export pricing.
California had a smaller crop and prices for natural Thompson firmed considerably.
The new crop is South-Africa will be smaller than expected. Initially a 85K crop was expected, but rains have deteriorated the quality of the crop and it will probably end up 10K less.
Due to the rains, less goldens will be produced and certainly the choice grade will be limited we expect.
With last year’s prices finally being very attractive, we expect some increase in the levels, especially of course for goldens.
The new crop in Chile looks okay  as well. The first offers show a rather wide spread in pricing, with on average a level being a continuation of last year’s prices.



And they did it again!
The bumper crop caused attractive levels and even the Californian industry was somewhat worried how to move such a big crop (certainly with a pandemic around).
However heavy demand for Chandler inshell walnuts from Asia, revealed that this variety was actually somewhat short. Therefor this week overnight all shippers were withdrawn offering Chandler halves.
Meanwhile now offering one or two loads a time 80% or 40% Chandler, but prices firmed by 15 to 20% and non-negotiable.
With delayed shipments due to congestion problems in the Californian ports, we see a shortage in Europe, were demand is heavy due to the low stock as buyers in anticipation of (or better: hoped for) even lower prices, bought carefully.
Non-varietal and combo walnuts did increase as well, but to a lesser extend as these will be the majority of the crop, which still is a bumper crop!