CATZINFO – DRIED FRUITS AND WALNUTS

Happy New Year!

Instead of our thoughts about the past year, we wish to start with some views on the future.
More than anything else we do hope we will see peace in the current places suffering from the war and some leaders will come to sense.

We cannot neglect the influence of the Middle East conflict on today’s logistics. Not only the transit time has and will be extended substantially, but meanwhile shipping lines have imposed a surcharge for shipments from Asia to Europe.
Freight rates have been tripled and will without any doubt have its effect on the cost price of products from Asia. For another reason, also the routing via the Panama Canal has been limited because of the low water level.
A surcharge for the shipments from California to Europe is now also applicable. We do not see any improvement on the short term.
Another issue will be the climatical changes, of which El Niño is also a phenomenon.
Uncertainty about the crops will increase in the long run.
In the last days of last year, the euro increased against the dollar by about 3% which mitigates at the end somewhat the additional freight charges.


Dried Fruits

Apples
The arrival of the new crop apples from China has been seriously delayed, due to the scarce shipping possibilities and rolling over of cargo decided by the mighty shipping lines without any possibility of the shippers to protest.
On top we now have the problems of ships avoiding the Red Sea / Suez, which will take even longer.
Also Asian producers are looking for cheaper alternatives to ship to Europe as freight costs tripled (or even more). As a consequence, dried apples from China are getting scarce and prices are increasing at the moment.

Apricots
The news about the 49% increase of the minimum wages in Turkey has had its impact on the apricot market as well.
With local elections this year, it is no coincidence the government is trying to get their traditional voters satisfied and compensate for the enormous inflation still existing in Türkiye.
As selecting apricots is rather labour intensive, but done mainly by workers with a minimum wage, the cost price for dried apricots is obviously higher.
So far most sizes are still available, but as a larger share of the crop has been hit by hails and rains, which have affected the quality, the availability of clean and nice fruits is diminishing rapidly.
Prices have increased meanwhile.
With still at least 7 months to go till the new crop becomes available, we foresee a firm market for the balance still available. It is too early to give any prediction on the new crop.

Banana chips
We have encountered supply issues during the past few weeks due to heavy rains, which affected the mobility to get the green banana raw materials inside the farms, plus there was a big earthquake that struck the region first half December.
Shippers had to take necessary and precautionary actions to ensure the safety of employees and buildings are in good condition for operations.
Most shippers are meanwhile back in operation and working to catch all pending orders.
Anyhow the additional freight surcharge will have a substantial effect on the relatively cheap banana chips.

Pineapple/Papaya
Now papaya prices are easing somewhat, the headache turned to the pineapple.
The winter crop has been delayed due to the long drought and there will be a serious shortage on pineapple for at least the coming half year.
Shippers are on hold selling, as they first need to find the material for their existing contracts.
Needless to say the logistic issues do not help to make it easier.
The winter crop for mango has been disappointing as well, so prices will be firmer till the next summer crop. Also, ginger will be less available this season.

Prunes
The season in Chile is more or less over and factories will go in maintenance modus to prepare for the coming crop starting in February and first shipment in March/April.
Since the beginning of the last season, prices have eased as supply was good.
In general prunes are well available in Europe, but mainly the medium sizes.
In a few weeks, we will be able to report more accurate about the new crop at least we hope.

Raisins
The sultana prices from Türkiye remain firm and the increase of the minimum wages will have to be added to the cost price.
The Turkish industry is pretty confident there will not be a big carry out like in previous years. Also the shortage of raisins and sultanas in other origins helps to market their product at higher levels.
South Africa is expecting again a good crop and hopes there will be no surprises like last year, when a predicted 80K+  crop was adjusted downwards to less than 70K due to rains during the drying period.
For coming season again an 80K+ is expected. At the moment no prices offered yet.
Californian prices for Thompsons have even further firmed, which is good news for the South African industry of course.
Question will be – as always – what will be the choice of the farmers: to go for the riskier goldens with a better margin or the safer Thompsons but with less margin. We will know in a couple of weeks.
The Chilean crop might be a little disappointing, but this is the usual ‘noise’ from the Chilean industry in anticipation of the new crop.
Fact however is there is hardly any carry out – this time they really sold their ‘last’ containers – and the firmer prices worldwide, will certainly trigger higher opening prices from Chile as well.

 

Nuts

Walnuts
The record crop in California has led to a market in the doldrums. Prices are that low, more and more farmers have pulled at least part of their trees and go for other cultivars.
This is the ‘natural’ way to correct an oversupply situation and if not already next season, in the long run the supply of walnuts will be smaller.
A same transition we see in Chile: in previous years new orchards were planted and production grew double digit, we now see a standstill situation as prices for walnuts are not bringing the profits as hoped for.
Prices for walnuts are consequently very attractive at the moment and though timing is an issue, taking some long position on walnuts could be a responsible choice, as we see really no more downside at the moment, especially for the Californian product.