CatZinfo – Dried Fruits & Walnuts

“Ironic” is maybe not the correct word in relation to the expression “business as usual” while a war is going on in Europe.
However it is the reality, as there are not yet signs of a possible cease fire or peace talks, the world goes on and so do we in our business.
Of course the prices have increased of many products as Ukraine, being a large food supplier, disappeared largely from the markets.
Thousands of containers have been ‘parked’ in Rotterdam with final destination Russia due to the ban on exports of essential products.
For our scope of business we noticed disturbance of supply in some dried fruits and walnuts, though Ukraine was not a major player.
Gradually we see alternatives take over these sources, same as products meant for Russia will be sold elsewhere.
We do however face in general shortages in many products, because of production limits in certain countries due to lack of workers (COVID-restrictions in Asia)
in combination with logistic hick-ups, where delays of 1 to 2 months in the shipping schedules are the ‘new normal’.
Positive is the somewhat slower freight rates, but these are still a multiple factor increase compared to more than one and a half year ago.
Another issue at the moment is the stronger US-dollar, which is coming close to come at par with the euro-value.
Obviously this did firm buying prices in euros, but nevertheless in general demand for our dried fruits and nuts remained strong.
Obviously our plant based products are a valuable contribution in the food chain.

Dried Fruits

Apricots
The actually already historical high prices before the night frost mid-April were actually a bargain compared to today’s price-ideas.
A logic consequence of the damage caused by the frost and a run on the available stocks of the current crop.
Though the damage cannot yet be assessed accurately, the general opinion in Turkey is a loss of 50% of the crop 2022.
However there is still a long way to go before the fruits come off the tree and we must realize the damage is assessed by the Turkish stakeholders!
We see – after ‘panic’ pricing immediately after the frost – today a slightly easier market, but definitely
well above the pre-frost period. We fear the only way to slowdown demand will be a high price and the coming season,
apricots will be anyhow one of the most expensive (mainstream)  dried fruits.

Banana chips
The problem with the bananachips is not only the stable to firmer pricing in origin combined with lack of workers, but most and for all the delays
in the shipments. Certainly from the Philippines we have to cope with delays exceeding 5 to 6 weeks after the scheduled date.
All this makes the supply in Europe cannot meet demand and as a matter of speaking: new arrivals do not even see our warehouse.
Spot demand is heavy and hand-to-mouth buyers either must be patient or pay a premium.
Cranberries
A firm market with most packers fully booked for the coming months. New orders will be accepted only for July onwards.

Currants
Indeed we seem to have left the bottom and prices for Greek currants firming somewhat.
The crop in South-Africa (approximately 3300 mtons) is same as last year, as for currants problems with humidity in the growing area.

Pears/Peaches
Most South-African shippers are sold on pears meanwhile. With first arrivals of the crop 2022 yet to arrive in Europe, we will see
certainly towards the end of the year some small leftovers in the second hand in demand and prices will be high.
Though also peaches took longer for drying, the availability will be enough to meet demand.
Prunes
Another difficult season for prunes ahead.
After the failure crop of 2021 in Chile, this year the crop can be called normal, but without any carry over, shippers could continue the
premium pricing of last year for the first shipments. Next to this on the demand side the Chinese interest for natural condition prunes is heavy.
Taking also into account heavily damaged crop in France, which will result in a minimal crop for the second year in a row, all ingredients for a difficult
prune market with firm pricing are there. Alternatives to ‘play’ with in dried fruit mixes like pears and peaches are at least at the same high level.
If we look at apricots with double the price, it is clear demand for prunes will not fade.
Looking at California with a limited crop as well and high prices, this source will not bring relief either.
Raisins
The rains in South-Africa in Mar/Apr have hit the crop drying in the fields. The high humidity caused way longer drying to reach the required level in
order to produce the final product. Especially golden were risky to dry and being the reason farmers opted for making less goldens.
Meanwhile packers are sold and last containers changed hands at rapidly increased prices. As there are at the moment not much alternatives
(California cannot meet the sulpher MRL and Iran is actually a no-go), we will see a difficult market towards the end of the year (certainly when
demand for Ramadan 2023 will come in the market). We cannot but advise to look at your needs.
For Thompsons the quantity is more or less same as last year, as in spite of the smaller crop, Thompsons were made relatively more instead
of goldens. However with high prices from California and Turkey sold on Thompsons, prices are firming.
Chile reporting a very good quality and reasonable quantities. However prices are firm. Anyhow for the jumbo goldens as the Chilean know the market and secondly
the firmer dollar made obviously all prices in euros higher.
The Turkish industry is still struggling to push prices up for their sultanas, but the market remains quiet. Positive is the slight increase in the volumes shipped.
Being the cheapest ‘raisin’ at the moment, this is not a big surprise.

Nuts

Walnuts
The prices for California higher half count and light material are somewhat firmer. Some shippers even report being well sold on these.
Nevertheless the unshipped and uncommitted inventory is considerable, especially domestic (darker) qualities, but perhaps the April shipment figures may trigger the prices.
Anyhow we expect a two tier market, with increasing prices for the higher qualities and stable pricing at the current (low) levels for lower qualities.
Chile maintains its premium over the Californian prices and has sold fairly well. Also for this origin especially (extra) light material is in demand and
positions with shippers are getting tight.