10th August 2017 – UK Demand for Vine Fruits Remains Limited

Despite the cool August temperatures in the UK, the Mediterranean continues to bask in very hot weather which can be a concern if vines are not well irrigated. The harvest of Turkish sultanas and raisins should commence in 7-10 day, with the of Greek currants harvest taking place later this month.

UK traders report a quiet trading week, with most major buyers either on leave or awaiting developments from the northern hemisphere producing countries.

There seems to be a growing acceptance that the price of Turkish sultanas and raisins will continue to firm from the closing levels of the “old crop” of 2016. Much depends on the size of this year’s crop and whether there are any problems during the harvest. As reported last week, Greece did experience some heavy rain but overall damage should be relatively slight with the critical period being after the grapes have been cut and are in the open drying.

In times past, the arrival of new crop Greek currants from Patras, raisins from Valencia or Malaga in Spain and sultanas, figs and apricots from ‘Smyrna’ in Turkey was greeted with anticipation by grocers who would traditionally decorate their window displays with the new crop of dried fruits. This practice has long since ceased, as most major UK retailers now stock dried fruits as an ingredient or as a snacking product throughout the year, with little reference to either the country of origin or the particular crop. Consumers are, sadly, not given the opportunity to appreciate the quality difference between freshly harvested dried fruits and fruit that has been in storage for many months. It could be a marketing opportunity to highlight the different origins of dried fruits and the difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’” crop.

Offers of present crop Turkish sultanas and raisins remain unchanged with specially cleaned standard no 9 sultanas available between USD1,300-1,350 per tonne fob Izmir, with genuine Turkish Thompson Seedless raisins at a premium of USD150-200/tonnes on this figure. Most Turkish packers are now offering new crop for shipment end August or early September at a slight premium of perhaps USD50/tonne on the above figures.

Concern continues with the fluctuation in exchange rates of and this is likely to be a key factor in the cost of all types of dried fruits in the months ahead as the Brexit negotiations spin out.

First new crop Greek currant offers have been received by UK importers. Provincial fruit is quoted between EUR1,800-1,850/tonne (USD2,110-2,170) fob Piraeus for September shipment. It is expected that this price may increase if demand exceeds supply in the first few weeks of the season. There is also an expectation that the supply of genuine Vostizza currants may be limited this year, following the recent rain and further news is awaited on the price of Vostizza currants from the Union of Aeghion.

News from California continues to suggest a much higher price for Thompson Seedless raisins this season, due to an expected smaller crop and, more particularly, higher demand from local farmers for their raw material. Prices of 2016 crop US Thompson Seedless raisins continue to be quoted around USD1.00 per lb c&f Felixstowe for shipment through until October/November.

Prices of new season Turkish figs are due to be announced shortly. The news of the crop continues to be favourable with early expectations suggesting a total crop of between 60,000-65,000 tonnes, which will compare favourably with last year’s tonnage. First new season shipments will, however, not take place until later next month as the Turkish industry is keen to prevent the many local packers from shipping fruit too early as this can result in quality issues on arrival at the port of destination.

Prices of no 6 Natural/Lerida Turkish figs are nominally being quoted between USD4,000-4,250/tonne fob Izmir, but further news is awaited.