15th June 2017 – Favourable Weather Signals Improved Greek Currant Crop

Our correspondent in Patras, Greece reports that local farmers will start cutting the grapes in the growing areas of the Peloponnese at the beginning of September. The quality and quantity of Greek currants will depend on the weather conditions over the next summer months but the good news is that so far the weather has been ideal and no problems have been reported. Early expectations are that the quality of the fruit will be very good and that the first shipments of 2017 currants will be available after 20th September. The difference this year is however that there will be virtually no carry-over of unsold fruit from this year’s crop. Many farmers take their fruit to the larger unions in the hope of obtaining the best price and early payments. This year however there may be a temptation for them to hold back in the hope of forcing up prices. Leading UK importers do not therefore expect a major price reduction from today’s high levels until the fruit is safely harvested and the size of the crop calculated.

At present the price of Provincial Greek currants ranges between Euros 1700-1800 pmt FOB Piraeus where available stocks can be found, with genuine Vostizza currants totally sold out. The area around Aeghion continues to produce the world famous Vostizza currant which has a special flavour and a unique appearance. The product has been classified by the EU as a PDO (Protected Designated Origin), so Vostizza currants do command a premium and it is to be hoped that there will be a greater quantity available for loyal UK customers in the coming year.

News from Turkey continues to focus on the EU’s recent decision to increase surveillance of Turkish sultanas and raisins for Ochratoxin A analysis on arrival in the EU. The UK imports around 66,000 metric tonnes annually of dried vine fruits, so expectations are that there may be delays at ports of entry if a significant number of containers are held for checking.

Prices of Turkish sultanas are reported to have risen over the past few days. The leading growers’ union, Taris stopped offering 2015 crop this week on the local bourse and has begun offering 2016 crop raw material at an increase of about US$100 per metric tonne. This corresponds to a raw material price of 4TL per kilo which, has had an effect on export prices. It is difficult to know whether this will be temporary but as an indication specially cleaned standard no 9 sultanas are today available between USD1300-USD1400 pmt FOB Izmir.

The official crop estimate for the Turkish apricot crop for 2017 has been set at 142,460 metric tonnes, which compares to a crop estimate of 103,250 for the 2016 crop. This is good news as reports of frost damage this year are limited, with over 80% of the orchards in the Malatya growing area unaffected during the critical blossoming period.

Local exporters do however report that there will be an increase this year in rain and hail damaged fruit which creates speckling on the outside of the apricots. First new season shipments are expected to take place at the end of July and the price of new crop is expected to reduce by between US$150-US$200 per tonne and further news is awaited.

US raisins prices have also firmed over the past few days as farmers are reluctant to release their remaining stocks of unsold raisins to local packers in the expectation that the new season raisin crop and field price may well increase due to the reduction in tonnage and the reduced carry-over of raw material from one crop to the next.

As an indication, prices of good quality Select Thompson seedless raisins have increased to between $0.89-$0.92 cents per lb C&F Felixstowe for shipments through until October.