CatZinfo dried fruits and nuts

The hectic of the end of the year has started in full. As usual many logistic issues to solve, certainly now shipments take on average longer and some routes can even be called unstable, with cargo rolled over to next vessel by the shipping lines. Also freight rates may increase due to higher energy costs as well as problems in the Panama Canal due to low water level.

Another element heating the trade is the shortage of goods on the spot: buyers saw prices coming down and were cautiously buying. Lower prices increased however consumption, so for some products there is a serious shortage to meet delivery obligations or cover the needs due to higher demand.

From Brussels we were charged with some new regulations on MOSH/MOAH as well as on the other hand the absence of harmonisation of Official Controls, now some Member States have their own rules resulting in disproportional losses of food, which may not send back to origin to get a treatment and must be destroyed.

The dollar became surprisingly weak against the Euro, which made prices for imported foods somewhat more attractive.


Dried Fruits

 

Apples

A good example of the unexpected shortage in Europe are the dried apples from China. Usually first shipments depart even end September for first arrivals end October or first half November. However, lack of workers in combination of bad weather during harvesting, caused serious delays to produce the first shipments. On top: the transit time increased by about 2 weeks, so with arrival 2nd half December in a complete empty market, the problem is obviously there. First arrivals meanwhile are fully allocated and prices for apples are firm for deliveries in January. As in general the crop in China was not abundant, we foresee another year with high priced apple products.

 

 

Apricots

With an export volume till end October being almost 30% less than last year in the same period, it is clear there are some problems.
More than average hail damage and a shortage on big (1-2) and small (7-8) sized fruits we notice there is more medium available.
Meanwhile demand has fallen as seasonal buying has taken place and we see prices become more stable and some shippers in need of cash flow are prepared to negotiate on bids.
Most quantities are in the hand of growers and traders, who have the power to sit on the stocks and create an artificial shortage on the short term. This will inevitably hold prices firm at least till the bloom in the next spring period.

 

Banana chips

Still a rather stable situation for the banana chips. Demand is picking up for the Asian festivals and Ramadan-period. The prices for the fresh green bananas in the Philippines remain stable to firm. Also higher labour and energy costs push prices upward.
Supply is good but also here, finding shipping space is a problem with transit via Singapore and taking up to 7 weeks before arriving in Europe. Spot positions in Europe are hence limited.


Pineapple/Papaya

El Niño has caused some serious problems for the fruit sector in Thailand. Especially pineapple and papaya have been hit and prices firmed.
Production is restricted and in some cases already limited to a maximum of the number of cartons for certain products each per container.
Furthermore the increase of sugar prices and wages (minimum increased compulsory 10% for the workers) has contributed to the higher price levels.

 

Prunes
Chilean prune prices eased somewhat for the bigger sizes. For the medium sizes like 50/60 and 60/70 most packers have sold their quantities and only some limited quantities still for sale. It is too early to say anything about the new crop in February/March.

 

Raisins

The Turkish sultana crop will be about 1/3 less than previous season (220K vs 320K). So far half the quantity of last year has been registered at the Boursa till end of October.
The harvest has been completed and the orchard will start their dormant period. Prices have increased considerably.

A serious problem will be the organic product, as due to the absence of spraying, moulds have destroyed a greater part of this segment due to high moisture. Prices do a substantial premium over conventional and ‘bio’ is only limited available.
In South Africa farmers looking already forward to the crop 2024. The risk of frost has meanwhile disappeared and meanwhile the fruit is developing well. Of course there are still a few months to go with risk of too hot or too rainy circumstances till after harvesting and drying.

Nevertheless there is some optimism, the crop will beat last year’s disappointing crop and reach over the 80K threshold. With the present shortage for Thompsons and the higher price levels of the last part of the stocks, farmers may produce more Thompsons expecting a better price. However, weather conditions during the harvest may as well influence the choice of the farmers.

From Chile no news yet on the coming crop. Anyhow completely sold on jumbo flames and goldens, it will not be a surprise opening prices will not be discounted.

 
Nuts

Walnuts

Being a walnut grower in California makes no fun these days. The good crop has triggered a heavy competition and buyers can take advantage of the attractive at the moment. Of course there have been some attempts to lift the prices, however buyers in spite of the low prices take a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude. As a consequence most buyers have waited for the new crop, but this being late with arrival around the Christmas time, now caused a run on spot material, which is hardly available anymore.

With current low prices we expect for next season a substantial number of farmers will pull their walnut trees and exchange for other agricultural products (as we have seen before).
Though not immediately but certainly in the approach to the crop 2024, this will contribute to a firm undertone in the market as less acreage will be available for walnuts.
We think at current levels there is not much downward space on the price and some forward covering might be a good choice.

Offers from Eastern Europe are relatively high compared to the Californian levels and the gap is getting narrow.