8th June 2017 – Australia Reports Reduced Sultana Crop

Reports indicate that some Turkish dried fruit producers have already started to offer new crop Turkish sultanas and raisins. It is however, still very early as there is more than two months to go until the harvest takes place in mid-August. There is therefore a serious risk for exporters if problems occur between now and the completion of the new crop.

First estimates of the size of the new crop of Turkish sultanas and raisins put this around 250,000-260,000 metric tonnes, which will be considerably smaller than last year’s bumper crop. There is though likely to be a substantial carry-over of fruit from this year’s crop. Turkish vine fruit prices have come under pressure locally as Iran continues to offer their sultanas and raisins at very competitive levels. Demand however, is high for the domestic market for Ramadan, so export prices for the UK market are largely unchanged with specially cleaned standard no 9 sultanas available between US$1200-US$1250 pmt FOB Izmir and type no 8 sultanas which can be used as a substitute for Thompson seedless raisins at a discount of between US$50-US$75 pmt on this figure. Genuine Thompson seedless raisins are however now relatively scarce as most of the available quantities have been purchased on forward contracts. Where stocks can be found these are available at between US$1350-US$1400 pmt FOB Izmir.

There have been no reports of any serious quality issues this year particularly with the now prohibited pesticide chlorpyrifos. Local farmers are however concerned, that there may be future problems with mould on the vines as chlorpyrifos had previously been used to reduce this problem. As reported last week, the EU has decided to increase its surveillance on Turkish vine fruits from 1st July and it will be interesting for the industry to be able to review the results once these are available.

The vines are now quite advanced throughout the Turkish sultana growing regions and the next critical period is of course August when the grapes are cut and in the open to dry.

News from Australia is less positive with the major dried fruit packer confirming that there will be a sever shortfall of Australian sultanas this season following a hailstorm in Sunraysia on 11th November and a poor fruit set in the Spring, which was caused by unseasonal weather. Grower yields are therefore likely to be significantly lower than estimated when the fruit was still on the vine and expectations are that the sultana variety will be reduced by as much as 32% this year. New crop prices have therefore increased but the main problem for export customers will be a lack of availability.

South Africa continues to have fruit to sell with Choice Thompson seedless raisins quoted between US$2000-US$2050 pmt CIF UK and Choice golden raisins between US$2800-US$3000 pmt CIF UK. Unsold stocks of South African currants are now very limited following an increased take-up this year by European buyers.

News from Greece remains pessimistic with very few offers of 2016 crop currants. Where offers can be found prices remain high at between Euros 1800 – Euros 1850 pmt FOB Piraeus for good quality provincial fruit. It is, as in the case of the Turkish sultana crop still too early to accurately predict the size of the new crop of Greek currants this year. New season Greek currant prices will be set against the background of almost nil availability from the previous crop. Major packers and importers both seem to be of the opinion therefore that prices of currants will remain firm for the foreseeable future.