Demand for dried vine fruits has been high over the past days as UK manufacturers and packers increase their requirements for raw material in the important selling period leading up to Christmas.
The whole Brexit debate and the artificial deadline of October 31 has proved to be an unwelcome distraction, with importers having to bring forward shipments to prevent what has turned out to be non-existent shortages.
There is, however, good news from recent political developments in the UK which has been reflected by an improvement in the value of sterling against the US dollar and euro. This has helped to soften prices of dried vine and tree fruits.
Demand for Turkish raisins and sultanas remains strong in the UK, although total exports this year from Turkey remain less than last year. Turkey exported a total of 252,000 tonnes in 2018 which means that if a similar figure is reached this year and the crop has increased to more than 320,000 tonnes, there should be sufficient fruit to meet both export and domestic demand in the months ahead.
The intervention of the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture (TMO) has helped to hold up the price of raw materials in Turkey, although it is possible that once buying has been completed prices could fall. There may, therefore, be buying opportunities in the months ahead. As an indication, good quality Turkish specially cleaned type No.9 sultanas are available between USD1,925-1,975 per tonne fob Izmir with Turkish raisins at a premium of USD100-150/tonne on this figure.
Exports of Turkish figs have been steady over the past few weeks. There is little doubt that prices will reduce from today’s levels in the months ahead as the total crop is expected to be more than 80,000 tonnes. The quality of the fruit this year is reported to be excellent, although as the figs are ‘fuller’ and juicier than usual there is unfortunately the possibility that there will be an increase in the levels of aflatoxin. The EU has, however, increased the levels of surveillance at the ports of entry so this should not be an issue. Prices are unchanged with good quality No.6 natural figs quoted between USD4,000-4,250/tonne fob Izmir for shipment through until the New Year.
Our correspondent in Patras, Greece reports that despite a much larger crop of Greek currants this year, as the final price of raw material has not been determined, farmers remain reluctant to sell their fruit to local packers for a fixed price. Much raw material has therefore been placed with the major union with a final buying price still to be determined.
Prices of good quality provincial Greek currants remain between EUR2,450-2,500 (USD2,702-2,757) per tonne fob Piraeus. This is still quite a high price and will not be an incentive for UK buyers to increase the quantities they buy in the run-up to Christmas. It remains to be seen, therefore, if Greece can market the full quantity of this year’s crop of currants, which is expected to exceed 22,000 tonnes.
Last week saw the annual sultana producers conference which was held in Mildura, Australia. This is an opportunity for delegates from the various producing countries to meet and discuss the global supply of dried vine fruits over the past year and for the year ahead.
This year should see a global surplus of dried vine fruits although the ongoing political situation with Iran continues to make the export of Iranian dried vine fruits to the EU difficult.