18th May 2017 – Proximity of Ramadan Increases Demand for Dates, Figs and Apricots

Demand for dates, apricots and figs is expected to increase for Ramadan which this year beings on 26th May. The good news is that prices of Turkish apricots are on a downward curve as packers expect a much larger harvest this year. Prices of dates however have increased due to the expected surge in demand and this year prices of figs remain high as availability, particularly from Turkey is limited.

The increase in demand for the different dried tree fruits should however provide a welcome boost for the UK dried fruit industry, which remains relatively subdued with major importers reporting a lack of demand. This is surprising, as Turkish sultanas and raisins continue to be at their lowest level in price for several years. Despite the absence of Greek currants, other leading producers including Chile, South Africa and the US all have stocks of raisins to sell.

The shock of last year’s Brexit vote in the UK did cause a major realignment in the value of Sterling against the US Dollar, Euro and other global currencies. Since then however, Sterling has however gradually recovered some of its lost ground so that with the reduction in prices of Turkish vine fruits cost for the UK consumer should be largely unaffected.

This week has seen the news of the merger of the UK’s largest packer and distributor of dried fruits, Whitworths, with the Turkish packer Anatolia. This follows many years of co-operation between the two companies and will end a period of uncertainty for Whitworths and creates a major global dried fruit producer and packer.

Prices of the different types of vine fruits are largely unchanged with US raisins continuing to be available between US$0.88 – US$0.90 cents per lb C&F Felixstowe and Turkish sultanas quoted between US$1250-US$1300 pmt FOB Izmir. Unsold stocks of genuine Turkish raisins are however now limited with packers offering fruit between US$1400 – US$1450 pmt FOB where stocks can be found.

The position with Greek currants remains difficult with very few new confirmed sales reported over the last few weeks. Prices in Sterling terms have increased with provincial fruit being quoted between GBP1600 – GBP1700 pmt landed ex-UK warehouse. This is a high price indeed and it is to be hoped that once the new crop becomes available in September prices of Greek currants will reduce to more competitive levels. There is a danger that if prices of currants remain significantly higher than the price of sultanas and raisins, demand will gradually wither away so that currants become a niche product rather than a major ingredient for bakery, manufacturing and retail.