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The Almond Board of California released the December position report on Tuesday January 12th. Key highlights as below:

Receipts

An additional 454 million lbs. were received in December, bringing the season total to 2.868 billion lbs.

Overall, it appears the crop is going to be in line with the pre-harvest estimates of 3 billion lbs. with the probability of being slightly over.

While the final figure may not hold much relevance at this stage, we have provided a few scenarios below:
• Last season January - July receipts were 165 million lbs. Assuming it were to be the same this season, the crop would wind up being 3.034 billion lbs.
• Last season year-to-date December receipts accounted for 93.5% of the total crop. Assuming the percentages were same for this season it would bring the estimated crop to 3.068 billion lbs.

Shipments

Having shipped 256.9 million lbs. in December, our industry set a record for the 5th consecutive month this season.

Domestic shipments were 60.76 million lbs. in December (up 5.7%) and year-to-date shipments now stand at 331 million lbs. (up 11.5%).

Exports in December were a stellar 196.14 million lbs., up 32% over last December.

The majority of the increases in exports were attributed to India (up 63% or 15 million lbs.) and China/ HK/Vietnam (up 354% or 17 million lbs.).

India’s growth can be attributed to the almond’s better value to cashews. Given the health benefits, a much larger percentage of the population is now able to afford switching consumption.

Shipments into Europe continue to grow at a stable 15% to date.

With the supply having grown by 22.8% and shipments by 23.2% it seems like the industry position is in healthy equilibrium.

The question however is whether this growth in demand can be sustained for the rest of the crop season.

One major region that has not shown growth this year has been the Middle East. Given that their main festive season is yet to come and there has been increased buying activity from this region in the last few weeks, sellers are hopeful that we will see a positive change in this region going forward.

Sales & Commitments

Sales in December were 172 million lbs which is 4% higher than last December.

Given that the industry had sold heavily pre-harvest, commitments (sold not shipped) stand at a healthy 920 million pounds, up 51% over last year.

Assuming a crop of 3.05 billion lbs., the industry has already sold 74% of the crop and 64% of supply. This is a good position to be in, given that last year with a smaller crop the industry was only 65% sold on crop and 59% sold on total supply at this time.

In A Nutshell...

Overall, the almond industry seems to be in a good position and has proven its resilience once again. No matter the size of the crop, almonds are a versatile nut with demand across geographies and consumption segments.

Clearly finding liquidity for almonds is just a matter of price and at current levels, which are 15 cents higher than a month ago, almonds continue to be a value and are loved by consumers.

With a crop this size, it becomes evident that there is no time for sellers to take their foot off the gas. However, handlers are in a strong enough committed position where they will continue to try to seek better returns for their growers; even if it’s just a few cents at a time.

Given the low snowpack and no significant precipitation forecasted over the next 30 days, growers are understandably concerned with a potential drought and its impact on the orchards.

With bloom just about a month away, focus has shifted towards the outlook of the 2021 crop. This will have a significant impact on how the balance 2020 crop is marketed going forward.


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