After a few slow months, the last few weeks have seen a good amount of activity across the markets. Celebrating “Golden Week,” China saw good consumption with Alibaba’s Tmall reporting a 79% increase in online sales compared to last year. Most of South East Asia’s countries have been operating cautiously and are able to control the situation. The first week of October reported the highest amount of COVID-19 cases across the globe with additional safeguards and restricted movements being planned as a result, especially in Europe. There have been promotional activities leading to a surge in product demand and overall stabilization of prices as well. Retailers across Europe and the USA continue to cover the demand for 2021 as prices remain attractive, though the situation remains worrisome. Focus on healthier products and increasing immunity continues with manufacturers and retailers investing resources into New Product Development. Kroger launched 20 plant-based products in September under “Simple Truth” and are looking to expand to over 75 products by year end. Edible Nuts can provide innovative solutions to various customer requirements and can be at the core of any meal profile. Detailed information on various nuts and superfoods over last few weeks is as below:
The cashew market has been reasonably silent over the last few weeks. With supply from West Africa coming towards an end, the focus is moving to East African crops. Tanzania announced the auction schedule for the new season though interest remains low due to uncertainties. Prices for both raw cashews as well as cashew kernels have been relatively stable and have been at disparity for most of the season. India’s domestic demand and processing activities continue to remain subdued and are not expected to increase drastically for the upcoming festival season. Vietnam has been able to manage the situation well and continues to process at good capacity. At the current pace, it is estimated that Vietnam could be recording the highest exports ever for cashews by year end. On the demand side, China has started importing higher volumes and European and USA retailers also continue to cover for 2021. For the next few months, prices are expected to remain stable within a range with some firmness due to supply constraints.
Strong arrivals of the new crop as well as record shipments continue in almonds. Over 1 billion pounds has been handled within Aug-Sep in the USA and shipments are higher by 32% compared to last year, especially for export shipments which are over 39% higher. India and China have imported much higher volumes so far which show signs of recovery with good demand though the pace may slow down in next few weeks. There has been an increase in the spread between larger and smaller sizes due to accumulation and prices for larger sizes may firm up further. Overall, with lower prices and improvement in demand, this momentum can and should continue for a while leading to record shipments for the year. For the new few weeks, prices are expected to remain attractive and should provide good opportunity for coverage.
The 2020 crop is estimated at 1 billion lbs. Sizes are large and crop quality is great. Shelling stock and closed mouth percentage is down substantially, which will keep kernel prices elevated. California’s season opening prices have been 14% lower than last year’s opening prices. Iran’s prices remain lower due to limited outlet possibilities, keeping the inshell prices rangebound. Overall demand has not been affected too much due to the current COVID-19 situation and it is expected that current lower prices will increase demand from China and other key markets.
California’s 2020 crop is expected to be between 730,000 – 780,000 tons, against 650,000 tons last year. Early harvest varieties indicate that projections appear to be accurate, though Chandler (which constitutes 60% of crop) is yet to be harvested and plays a key role in eventual volumes. California’s carry in was reasonable. Chile is sold out of some grades like halves and is marketing balance 15% of the crop. California’s opening prices were a record low, and prices inched up and stabilized in subsequent weeks. Current low prices are generating strong demand in inshell markets. Historically walnuts have shown strong price elasticity, and most believe that prices will move up after the peak arrivals.
The hazelnut market remained stable for the last few weeks as overall demand seems to be similar to 2019. Turkey has exported 307,000 MT of the 2019/20 crop so far, which is almost 30% higher than last year for the same period. Most of the buyers seem to be well covered, leading to slowed demand while the stocks at origin also are low. The main interest now is for the new crop, which is currently at a premium compared to spot prices. The Exporter Union survey report as well as TMO estimate on crops are expected by mid-July, which will give more accurate information for the upcoming season. The market seems to be in balance with both buyers and sellers reaching an equilibrium and TMO participation may push the prices up if they start falling beyond a certain point.
The macadamia market had mixed updates and reactions after a few silent weeks. Australia reported an increase in production for 2020 and new estimates are of overall 15% higher crop than original estimate of 36,500 MT, while South Africa continues to struggle with the crop and may not reach their estimates. There has been some visible impact of earlier droughts and current rains with a higher percentage of smaller sizes and lower SKRs, leading to some constraints on supply side. The demand remains stable, similar to the last few months, and focus is on China due to upcoming festival season which might lead to an increase in inshell demand and an overall firmness in prices.
The quinoa harvest has completed and Bolivia and Peru both reported full crops. Peru estimates between 65-70K MT. Supply has been steady and active from Peru with very few hiccups on arrivals. Bolivia has experienced a few more hiccups. Organic production itself was down, which will continue to create a supply squeeze on organic availability until the next harvest season. Bolivia has also continued to experience challenges with logistics bottlenecks, as they are a landlocked nation exporting during the COVID-19 crisis.
For demand, we are looking forward and expecting for markets in US and Europe to stabilize, in Q4 and into the next year through the beginning of harvest in May. Pricing to date for organic quinoa is a little improved over last year and expectation is for that price to be stable, as demand stabilizes. Were there to be any increase in demand, there could be an upside, as Bolivian organic supply is limited and still will be challenged by its lack of seaports, but for the time being, supply and demand remain in balance.
The chia crop in Paraguay and Bolivia has been lower and is impacted between 10-15%, but with demand squeeze serving as an equalizer, no pricing change has occurred yet.