Almond Market Update - September 29, 2023
With the crop so late this year, the industry is running into even cooler weather as harvest remains at a methodical pace. I would not characterize it as a feverish pace as those cooler temperatures have slowed everything down including the drying stage once the nuts have been shaken from the trees. Anticipate a slow influx of new crop receipts at the processor level for at least another month. One processor mentioned that in August of the previous year, they received more new crop in the first three days of the month than they did for the entire month this year. As the Almond Board of CA released the "August Position Report" two weeks ago, the slow beginning of the new crop year is validated by only 70 million pounds being received, this is over 73% less than last year when 264 million pounds had been harvested and received by handlers at the end of August. This has resulted in the current carry-out being used to satisfy contracts and demand needs for August through much of November and perhaps even December. For the most part, the quality grades that are sought-after are sold out at this point from the previous crop year.
In addition to the late crop, there is ongoing talk of a smaller crop and higher levels of insect damage. These are two of the several reasons why growers are hesitating to sell the new crop until a more thorough assessment can be made. This evaluation process is expected to take another 30 days until more harvest occurs and more data becomes available. Receipts are improving day by day, and new crop availability will increase in the coming weeks.
August shipments were in line with industry projections at 212 million pounds reported, and expectations for September are even higher. Given the low crop receipts for the month, it's easy to see that the majority of shipments came from the previous crop. This trend may continue in September, with estimates exceeding 220 million pounds.
Upcoming Industry Milestones:
- Growing Period: Harvest is in full swing and processors have started to receive their first loads from the huller shellers. More data will be made available each week as we learn more about the 2023 late harvest.
- Position Report: October 12, 2023
Almond Market Insights - Week 39 Update:
September shipments are expected to surpass last year's figures, likely due to new sales experienced in August, with 256 million pounds added. This represents a 31% YoY increase, which should result in strong shipments over the next few months.
If a smaller crop materializes compared to the earlier forecast of 2.6 billion pounds, this could help stabilize prices, satisfying growers while still offering good value to buyers.
While the market has firmed due to the latest news on crop receipts, pricing remains attractive for buyers and the firmness gives them confidence to purchase at least out through the first quarter of 2024.
Demand could trump supply and, at this point, the demand is very much in question worldwide. With inflationary pressures and a strong dollar, demand very much remains a concern to growers.
Market firmness is primarily driven by emotion rather than substantial transactions. California acknowledges the need to sell its crop, and as more clarity emerges, action must be taken to avoid a decline in shipments.
With August shipments lagging behind last year by -7% at this time, the industry cannot afford to start off on a negative note despite the late harvest. Regaining momentum later may prove to be challenging.