The proximity to Autumn and the long run up to Christmas has helped increase demand for dried vine fruits. This is welcome news to UK importers who have struggled in recent months with the roller coaster ride of Sterling. This dropped significantly in value after the “Brexit” vote and following a modest recovery has again slid in value against both the US Dollar and Euro.
Prices of dried vine fruits have also increased as global producers seek to improve the returns paid to local farmers and packers. The weather in Turkey has remained fine, so this year’s crop of Turkish raisins and sultanas seems likely to reach 300,000 metric tonnes. Taris the largest co-operative is likely to be cautious this season as last year they set a buying price for raw material at what in hindsight was too high as prices then fell back to historic low levels. This year, the total crop size is smaller and a larger quantity of fruit is likely to be dried as Thompson raisins. Prices of sultanas have already increased and if fears about the value of the Turkish Lira are correct will increase further as the season continues. As an indication specially cleaned number 9 sultanas are being quoted between USD 1450-USD1500 pmt FOB Izmir for shipments through until December. The premium for fruit dried as raisins varies between USD75-100 pmt on this figure.
This current low price for Turkish raisins will put pressure on the sales of US raisins, which remain quoted between $0.99-$1.00 per lb C&F Felixstowe. There is no doubt that genuine US raisins are still perceived by many UK consumers as a premium product, but this is not the case by many manufacturers and retailers, where the drive to control costs influences choices in origin and quality. As an example, the initial disquiet over the change in recipe by Cadburys for their famous fruit and nut chocolate appears to have subsided as buyers enjoy the reduction in cost that the change in ingredients helped to achieve.
Prices of new season Greek currants are high. The size of the new crop is tiny compared to years past and this may mean a fully sold out position. UK importers have two differing suggestions. The first is for buyers to accept the high opening prices and to secure the quantities they need, in case there is a lack of availability this season. Alternatively, some importers suggest buyers should wait for the market to cool down which may happen once the crop has been safely harvested. Initial offers range between Euros 1850-1950 pmt FOB Piraeus for specially cleaned provincial currants. The total crop seems unlikely to exceed 20,000 metric tonnes which will only just be sufficient to meet expected requirements. South Africa and US also produce currants, but only limited stocks of South African fruit remain unsold, so prices seem likely to remain firm.
The return to work in Turkey after the Bayram religious holiday has seen the usual frantic burst of activity as farmers gather this year’s crop of dried figs and packers employ large quantities of skilled seasonal workers to produce the large range of different types of dried figs. These include the traditional “layer” figs as well as “pulled”, natural and Lerida type figs. Some earlier rain and an almost nil stock of raw material from last year’s crop means that prices will remain firm until the first vessels have been loaded for export on 14th October. As an indication number 6 Lerida figs are being quoted between USD 4250-4750 pmt FOB Izmir. The quality is reported to be good and availability should be ample to meet exported orders.