Attention in Turkey is focused on this weekend’s referendum vote to increase the powers of the Turkish president. It is unclear whether the result will have a major impact on the Turkish lira against the US dollar but, at present, prices of Turkish sultanas remain stable at between USD1,250-1,300 per tonne fob Izmir for specially cleaned standard No.9 quality.
Exports of Turkish sultanas were 169,574 tonnes between September 1 2016 and April 1 2017, compared with 122,363 tonnes for the same period last year. This is a significant uplift, but even if sales continue at the present rate, there should be upwards of 40,000 tonnes of sultanas available at the end of the season.
The vineyards around the Manisa area are reported to be in bud and, following a relatively cold rainy winter, are perhaps one to two weeks later than last year. Damage from frost and hail has been limited so far this year and, although frost can take place right up until the end of April, it seems likely that Turkey should have a good crop of sultanas and raisins this season with upwards of 275,000 tonnes forecast.
This year has seen a surplus of smaller sized Turkish sultanas which are usually at a premium. If a premium is payable at all, this is less than usual and is likely to remain so until the end of the year. Unsold stocks of genuine Turkish raisins are limited but there appear to be ample supplies of dark colour sultanas which can act as a substitute for genuine raisins.
Exports of Turkish figs up until April 1 have reached 39,820 tonnes; very similar to the same period last year. There are very limited stocks of whole dried figs remaining although there are reports of significant quantities of small poor quality figs. In previous years, China has been a major buyer of the cheaper grade of Turkish figs but this year sales are reported to be much smaller, so ample stocks remain. The Ramadan period beginning in May will increase demand for Turkish figs and apricots but for the UK at least, most buyers should now have covered their forward requirements until the new crop in October.
Turkish farmers are reluctant to give new crop prices for apricots as, although most of the apricot trees are now in blossom, the danger of frost in the Malatya growing area continues until the early part of May. This year has seen a great difference in price between natural unsulphured apricots and apricots that have had SO2 added as a preservative.
There is a trend in the EU to move away from the use of SO2 and this is likely to continue. Turkish farmers may therefore need to adapt to increase production of natural apricots. The risk, however, is that these do not keep as long. As an indication, whole pitted type No. 4 apricots are being quoted between USD3,500-3,750/tonne fob Izmir.
News from California continues to suggest that many packers remain keen to secure new export contracts for their stocks of 2016 crop Thompson seedless raisins are being quoted between USD0.87-0.89 per lb c&f Felixstowe. The slight improvement in the value of sterling against the US dollar has helped the price of US raisins and the consistent quality of US raisins continues to be a major selling point compared with other origins.