- Northern Hemisphere, 2022 crops:
West Africa crops are starting to enter across the region. From a size perspective, crops look to be in line with last year, and in some regions slightly better. To determine the final quality, we will need to wait a few more months.
- Last season, the crops were considered good in size, but poor drying capabilities combined with longer afloat periods and improper storage conditions have reduced the overall quality drastically.
- The political unrest hasn’t expanded further, which is a positive development for the stability in the region.
- In Asia, we are noticing heavy rainfall events, particularly in the Bin Phuc area of Vietnam. Since these rain events happened at the very end of the flowering season, we continue to expect crop size will more or less reach last season’s quantities.
- India crops have started floating in and are beginning to enter the production sites for the local market.
- The biggest unknown remains in Cambodia, where the official data and what we are actually seeing on the ground are completely different. From a midterm perspective, Cambodia crops will likely continue to grow.
- Ivory Coast declared the minimum farmer price at the same level as last year. This was not within the expectation of short sellers in RCN & Kernels, who took a combined view on freight costs and currency. As a result, we see an increase in activity and higher demand for spot pricing.
- All together, we see a significant increase of freight rates from Africa to Asia; currently quadruple last year’s rates. We expect rates will continue to increase.
- Even available RCN in Asia keeps trading at a premium and remains in strong hands, despite an increase in quality concerns as a consequence of improper handling during the export season.
- Execution of RCN shipments in Africa look to be the major challenge this season. There are already increasing delays in execution in both RCN and Kernel shipments. If disruptions continue, we may see spot RCN trading even higher and remain firm.
With the development in RCN world, we have seen an increase in activity by main destination markets in the recent months. The industry is willing to cover far in advance, even up to mid-2023, against current spot prices. Processors are not able to market, as spot prices vary between RCN and Kernel. Replacement costs are factored into potential interest and we see the destination markets have started to accept these higher levels because ultimately, they remain at very attractive average prices for advanced coverages.
- Kernel prices today remain at disparity, where the freight impact is likely to become higher this year with increased RCN shipment costs.
- Global freight rates remain high and continue to move in that direction.
- For EU/US, we are entering main coverage periods by end-users, which will put further pressure on Kernel availability, as RCN traders are not signalling to reduce prices below replacement costs.
- Consumption remains strong, even with increasing shelf prices.
- Pipelines at destination markets starting to reduce, which will result in unexpected spot coverages.
- West Africa RCN execution is likely to be impacted by logistical issues and higher freight rates.
- EU and US industry remains fairly uncovered for April onwards and likely will come together into the market, which will further feed the spot market and squeeze supply.
- No signal of short crops across the Northern Hemisphere, despite recent heavy rain events in Vietnam.
- Low demand from China/India continues.
- Vietnamese processors may still liquidate limited quantities under replacement costs until their RCN positions are depleted.
February is bloom month for the Almond industry. Through the first three weeks of the month we have had ideal conditions for the bloom. The bloom started this year around the 10th of February and is considered a flash bloom; this is where all the varieties bloom at once which occasionally takes place. The only concern with a flash bloom is if all the varieties are ready to harvest at the same time, it can be problematic. We did see a change in the weather on February 22nd, as temperatures dipped below 30 degrees in many parts of the state. There was some rain and hail in many regions as well. The cold snap continued for the last five days, however, warmer temperatures occurred during the daytime, providing plenty of windy sunshine to mitigate any concern of frost.
The Almond Board released the January shipment report on February 11th. It was anticipated to be off from last year as export shipments continue to falter due to logistics issues. With 177 million pounds shipped versus a year ago at 194 million pounds, the industry now trends -16% behind last year in shipments with 1.239 billion pounds shipped YTD versus 1.478 billion pounds YAGO. It should be pointed out, that the demand is there, but unfortunately with the shipping woes we are unable to meet the customer demand. The end result, however, remains the same: supply is exceeding the missed consumption opportunities as time passes and exporting struggles continue.
Shortages of specific sizes and varieties are already being reported throughout many handlers and processors. There seems to be a shortage of “NPX#1 27/30” specifically. This may be due to the lack of larger sizes at the beginning of the season, which put significant pressure on the 27/30 that it consequentially has now been depleted.
The Pistachio Shipment report for January was released by the ACP last week. The highlights are:
- 2021 crop receipts are 1.166 billion pounds, combined with a carry in of 284 million pounds, for a total supply of 1.45 billion pounds.
- Shipments were up 3.8% for January, with Domestic up 14.6% and Export down 4.5%.
- YTD shipments are up 4.4%, with Domestic up 9.2% and Export up 2.4% YTD.
In regards to 2022 crop development, while chill hours in California have been good this year, we are hearing some rumors of poor bud set in several areas. Previous industry estimates for the 2022 crop ranged from 1.0 to 1.3 billion pounds. With the poor bud set being observed, some in the growing community are reducing their estimates for the 2022 crop. More will be known on the potential of the upcoming crop in the coming months as we enter key development stages.
In regards to market, Inshell pricing remains stable with $3.45-$3.50 being quoted regularly on Inshell Ex 21/27. Large size Inshell continues to hold a $0.30-$0.40 premium over smaller sizes due to short supply in this year’s crop. Shelling stock also remains extremely tight with minimal closed shell to be found in 2021 crop. This, combined with growing kernel demand, is keeping kernel pricing firm while some have even began to shell out Inshell to meet Kernel requirements.
Overall, the continued stability of the pistachio markets remains a welcomed reprieve from the volatility currently being experienced in other commodities.
The January shipment report was released by the California Walnut board last week. The highlights are:
- Final crop receipts for 2021 California walnut crop was 720,163 short tons.
- Final crop size is 8.3% lower than last year’s crop of 785,000 tons and 7.5% higher than the objective estimate of 670,000 tons.Total supply for 2021 crop is 818,217 tons, down 3.6% or 30,768 tons versus last year’s 848,985 tons.
- Unshipped Total Supply in origin as of the end of January is 506,666 tons, 11.6% higher than last year’s 454,065 tons at the end of January.
- January shipments totalled 53,517 tons, down 15.1% versus last January’s 63,004 tons.
- YTD shipments stands at 311,551 tons, down 21.1% from last year’s 394,920 tons as of end of January 2021.
- Domestic shipments are down 6.6% YTD, while exports are down 26.7% YTD.
New sales in the month of January were 65,865 tons and commitments currently stand at 195,141 tons for the end of January.
YTD shipments and commitments total 506,692 tons, which represents a sold percentage of 70.4% of the 2021 crop and 61.9% of total supply, an increase of 8.1% over last month’s sold percentage of 53.8% of total supply.
As this is the first year the Walnut Board has reported commitments, there is no historical reference as to sold percentage at this time.
The 2021 California walnut crop finished at 720,163 short tons, 8.3% lower than year’s 785,000 tons. Overall supply also finished at 818,217 tons, down 3.6% or 30,768 tons versus last year’s 848,985 tons. While total supply is down 4%, shipments, unfortunately, are down 21% YTD. As a result, the pressure remains on the California walnut industry to sell and ship as much as possible over the next seven months of this crop year to help further reduce what will be a record-breaking carry out, which we are projecting to end up between 160,0000-170,000 tons. While we do not expect much downside in pricing from today’s levels, as we are near lows not seen in many years, upside potential still seems a ways away.
According to the Federal State Inspection Service, 3,199,815 farmer stock tons (all but 3,234 tons grading as seg 1) have been received and graded as of February 15, which slightly exceeds the total estimated production.
The latest USDA NASS Crop Production Report estimated production at 3,194,650 tons. Harvested acres were estimated at 1.545 million acres. They projected 4,450 pounds per acre in Georgia, which is still the third highest in history. Overall yield estimate is 4,135 pounds per acre (still the second highest national average on record).
Usage and demand is up 0.3% for this crop YTD (August-December) versus last year (up 1.6% from last month). Exports are continuing the downward trend at 28.43% down for this crop YTD (August-December). Estimated carryout for 2021 crop is up to 1.142 tons, with estimated total usage to be down 3.7% versus last crop year. Carryout could again increase if the current trends continue.
Commodity futures for Dec 2022 still remain strong with current prices for corn at $6.05, soybeans at $14.54, and cotton at $1.02. Strong commodity prices and higher input costs will play a part in planting decisions next year, as well as in the price that peanut farmer stock will demand.
Factors to Watch:
- Demand: both US and export.
- Competitive crop prices for calendar 2022.
- Crop input costs for calendar year 2022 (fertilizer, chemicals, etc).
- Impacts from COVID (concerns over new variant and how government mandates might impact the economy).
- Turkey is expected to have a record crop of 800K in the 2021-2022 season, but some of the gains were wiped off by the short Italian and US crops. Overall, the crop size is around 7-8% higher over the previous year.
- We believe the farmers/Manavs are still carrying around 100K inshells and should slowly flow into the market.
- TMO has recently announced the sale of 20K off its 80K stocks this week, at a price level of 39 TL/kg. The price level indication was slightly above expectations. This was expected to increase market prices by 10-15%, however, we have seen most exporters staying away from buying from TMO at the specified level of 39 TL/kg, and we do not expect much movement in prices.
- The currency availability of the product was a concern during the onset of 2022, as an extremely volatile currency and holiday period had put the market at a complete standstill. The TL has been relatively stable in the past few weeks and is in the range of $13.25-$13.75.
- Current price levels for inshells are around 37-39 TL/kg in the local market, largely influenced by the TMO sale prices of 39 TL/kg.
- The exports from Turkey are notably higher over previous years (200K against 155K MT), but we believe the increase predominantly pertains to replacement of the Italian crop and inventory build-up in Europe, in addition to an increase in consumption.
- Most large confections, as well as retailers, have closed their tenders for the season. We do not expect large demand anytime soon, however, mid-size companies, bakery segments and Italian manufacturers still seems uncovered, and continue to actively enquire for spot deliveries.
- The largest hazelnut processor seems to have covered its season demand, and might not participate for the rest of the season.
- The next crop size will now be an important indicator going forward. Thus far, the weather has been conducive for crop growth. The market will now be keenly observing the crop growth for “frost risk” periods during March and April.
- The price levels during the currency volatility were extremely lucrative for the European market and were hovering in the first quarter. As the currency stabilizes, the local commodity prices have adjusted to now move the prices to a higher level.
- We believe the downside to the current market is low, and given an upcoming election year, the TMO will be inclined towards offering an attractive price to the farmer voters in the region.
Australia closed their 2021 season with +10% over 2020 and the final payments to the growers have been settled. The South is projected to close at 54,174, +11% over 2020. So far in 2022, Australia has experienced high rains; good for tree health but creating challenges with pest issues, therefore the expectation is to have lower overall sound kernel recovery. In terms of numbers, industry forecasts a 10% increase over 2021. South Africa and Kenya will go into harvest in March and so far no major surprises have been reported from these regions.
Across the industry we have seen S4, S5 and S8 selling at a lower rate. Australia’s 2021 industry sales are at 90%, with heavy sales being driven by wholes (S0, S1L and S1A). Demand from major Australian consuming markets have been good and expected to continue for 2022 with inshell shipments to China forecasted to resume from June as another under-performing crop is expected in China. The demand from Middle Eastern, South Korean and Japan markets has continued to be very strong as well.
With new kernel crop from Australia expected to be in the market only from July and August, we have seen a spike in the short-term demand, especially for wholes. Stock at destinations is low and, keeping this in mind, we expect the inshell and whole kernel market to stay bullish in the short to medium term on the larger sizes, including S0, S1 (as has been the view for the last two months) while we expect the prices to soften for the pieces owing to high uncommitted stock at origins. Current prices for Style 1L and 4L are between $8.85 to $9.05 per pound and $7.10 to $7.40 per pound, respectively.