CATZINFO – DRIED FRUITS & WALNUTS

In our first issue of the year we wish you a prosperous and most of all a healthy 2022.
The year started with some of the same issues as we ended last year: COVID-19, logistic constraints, volatile markets and currencies.
An almost full lockdown in our country will hopefully end this weekend, but certain restrictions will certainly stay as numbers are too high and still increasing.
The good news is the lower number of people ending in a hospital when infected.
So let us hope the prevailing variant of the virus is the beginning of the disappearing of this pandemic.
However another point related with the pandemic is the percentage of people in quarantine (either infected or for precaution) nowadays.
A lack of people in warehouses and truckdrivers is already causing also for the inland distribution delays in deliveries.
The problems for especially the ocean shipments seem to continue. Not only is there still a considerable disbalance of the containers spread around the world, causing extreme high prices for shipments, but also the ‘rolling over’ of bookings seems to take ‘pandemic’ proportions worldwide.
Experts believe the high costs for the shipments will remain in the foreseeable future. Some even believe we have not seen the summit yet.
With the crop on the Southern Hemisphere around the corner, we expect it will become a challenge for the exporters to have the goods at destination within a reasonable time and not loose sales due to the delays in transport.
The Turkish Lira seems to stabilize somewhat since the beginning of this year, but we must realize it lost over 45% against the dollar since early January one year ago.
The dollar and euro were more or less stable with about 6% gradually weakening of the euro against the dollar in this same period.


Dried Fruits

Apricots
Though the Turkish crop is much smaller, shipments are about 6% stronger compared to last year’s same period (August 1st  2021 to date).
On the other hand supply is minimal as the owners of apricots prefer to have the fruit as a tangible asset rather than to have the weak Turkish Lira in hand.
Consequently prices have exploded in spite of the devaluated Turkish currency. Anything smaller than no. 4 is almost impossible to find.
Also to mention are the tremendous increases of (minimum-) wages, electricity, petrol and other costs driving up prices as well.
As a result, prices have doubled since the beginning of the crop. With at least 8 months to go before the new crop will be landed in Europe, we may see some unbelievable prices as certainly some contractual obligations need to be covered.
The South-African crop is almost finished, which is about one week later than normal. Though a ‘different’ product than the Turkish sweet apricot, the lower grades might be a good alternative – certainly pricewise – for the high priced Turkish product

Banana chips
The lockdowns and typhoons in the Philippines have slowed down production. Factories are booked for the short term and also the extended transit times of the vessels to Europe do not help to fill the pipeline.
It is hard to judge the market as there is a wider spread between the various shippers, whose prices largely depend on the state of their bookings

Cranberries
After a couple of years of attractive and steady prices due to oversupply, we now see a lower supply due to a smaller crop.
Prices have firmed considerably and also the fact some shippers are fully booked for the coming months, make this market rather firm.
With new crop only at the end of 2022 available, we see no improvement at least till early 2023.

Currants
Compared to last year’s levels, prices weakened. Meanwhile the bottom seems to be reached as the lower prices have triggered a stronger demand and also the Union is promising producers higher prices (upto 40%!!!) and tries to get backing from the Greek government. In case this happens we will see prices for currants going up again.
Also because of the COVID – certainly in the UK – home cooking has become very popular, which has increased demand for this product.

Pears/Peaches
For South-African pears it will be another difficult year. A failure crop in Europe (Italy/France -70%) brings an opportunity for export of fresh product, so also the quantity available for drying might be limited.
Peaches will be a normal harvest, though on average smaller fruit for the Elberta type.

Prunes
Spot material for Chilean prunes has gone except for some odd parcels around at firm pricing. Also Californian ashlock-pitted prunes are hard to get.
The Chilean exporters are not yet offering, as they know holding back will make buyers nervous (certainly those with ‘open’ positions to be covered).
The crop is looking good in Chile, but certainly for the first shipments, Chilean sellers know they are in the driver seat….

Raisins
The South African crop 2022 is in the spotlights as harvest has started. The crop is expected to end somewhere around 85.000 mtons, which would mean roughly 15% over last year’s crop. Weather conditions are good, so drying will not be a problem on the short term with expected temperatures over 35C. Some rains are forecasted, but not too much negative effect is expected.
Prices of medium goldens are indicated on same levels as last year, Thompsons definitely will be higher, as there is no carry out and the markets almost empty.
Also the pretty firm prices from California have influenced the opening prices from SA.
The Chilean crop is developing well and harvest has already started in the North, with optimistic news about quality and quantity.
Most shippers have not yet offered, but we do not expect major surprises.
The Turkish crop of 290.000 mtons will become a headache to move enough quantity to leave a manageable carry out at the end of the season.
Export was (to date) up only 4%, whereas prices due to the weak Lira could be called very attractive and should have provoked more sales normally.
Also TMO – the State owned buying organization to support prices – seems to hold 70K tons – which one way or the order must be moved.
For time being buyers may take advantage of this situation.

Nuts

Walnuts
California will have a difficult year as far as the sales of walnuts is concerned. The usually keen marketing policy has this time missed the ‘temperature’ of the market.
After the somewhat disappointing objective estimation (670K tons) following the subjective (722K tons) prices went up, where most buyers already covered the first
shipments and consequently took a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude.  On top the logistic constraints resulted in arrival of the ‘first shipments new crop’ after Christmas, thus
missing sales opportunities in the heavy seasonal period. Also sales in substantial markets like India and Turkey (the weak currency made imports of walnuts unaffordable)
caused a serious drop in exports.
Facing this slow demand, exporters got nervous and price decreased rapidly in the last months and now reaching a point we see interest getting back.
Whether this will mean the final touchdown of the prices remains to be seen, but if the blooming in spring will be even somewhat disappointing, we are sure it will be used to regain some lost grounds by the Californian shippers.
The Chilean crop will start in April/May and the development of the nuts is going well. Prices are not yet known, but the expectation will be they will do a premium as usual over the Californian prices.