Prices of Turkish sultanas have remained stable during the past week, despite the continuing global shortages of raisins and currants.
This is good news for the dried fruit industry, which is also benefiting from the increase in the value of sterling, although recent economic data from the US has weakened the currency slightly in the past few days. Most major UK users of vine fruits including retailers and manufacturers are likely to have purchased their forward dried fruit requirements through until the new crop. This generally becomes available in September but, in some cases, forward contracts will have been made up until the end of the calendar year.
As an indication, good quality standard No. 9 Turkish sultanas are being quoted between USD1,750-1,800 per tonne fob Izmir. Unsold stocks of better grades such as standard no. 10 sultanas are now limited and, where available, are at a premium of between USD100-150/tonne. Unsold stocks of the lesser grades such as type No. 7 and type No. 8 are now limited. This year, they may also be at a premium, as some buyers are able to use the darker coloured fruit as an alternative to raisins, which remain very high in price.
News from the US suggest that sales of Thompson seedless raisins to the EU have reduced due to this year’s high price. This is not unexpected, but some buyers continue to need to purchase Californian raisins as a premium product. Prices remain high at between USD 1.5-1.6 per pound c&f Felixstowe for select grade material.
In South Africa, it is reported that, so far, limited volumes of vine fruit have been delivered to the packers and the quality of this year’s crop is reported to be excellent. The total crop size of sultanas and raisins is still predicted to be between 55,000-60,000 tonnes. Although some rain has been reported, this has not had a significant impact on the quality of this year’s fruit. The very hot weather and dry wind will also help producers to dry their product quicker than last year.
The drought in the area north of Cape Town has had a major impact in Vredendal, where virtually all South Africa’s currants are produced. This is likely to reduce the tonnage of South African currants by 50% this year.
South Africa has announced prices of new season dried peaches and dried pears. As an indication, choice medium peaches are being quoted between USD4,250-4,500/tonne cif UK and choice medium pears at USD3,250-3,500/tonne. Unfortunately, this year’s South African apricot crop is reported to be one of the smallest in many years with very little available for export.
Turkish apricot exports have reached around 60,000 tonnes at the start of February, compared with only 50,000 tonnes for the same period last year. The past four weeks have seen a tightening in the supply of raw material from farmers and traders, which has caused some difficulties for packers to meet their forward orders. Prices have, therefore, continued to increase and seem likely to increase further in the foreseeable future.
The major issue seems to be the shortage of the larger-sized apricots, so the differential in price has increased. Attention is now being focused on the blossoming period of the apricot trees. There is a concern that a lack of rain could create a shortage and warm weather may also cause the trees to blossom earlier, which puts them in danger of frost damage. As ever, different factors can cause prices to increase as producers speculate on the size of the new crop and further news is awaited.