Attention has turned to the availability and price of new season dried vine fruits from the northern hemisphere producing countries.
Although we are still more than three months away from the start of this year’s harvest, the danger of frost and hail damage to the vineyards in the sultana and raisin growing areas in the Izmir region of Turkey has now passed. The next critical moment will be after the grapes have been cut and have been laid in the sun to dry. Any rain during this time can cause serious problems with mould and darkening of the colour of the berries, resulting in an increase in the cost of lighter coloured fruit such as type No. 10 sultanas.
First new season offers are, as expected, lower than the present cost of 2018 crop fruit with specially cleaned standard No. 9 sultanas of 2019 crop quoted between USD1,900-2,000 per tonne fob Izmir. This is a discount of almost USD300/tonne on today’s price but is, in theory, purely speculative as much can happen between now and first shipments in the middle of August and early in September.
A modest carry-over of unsold fruit is expected from this year’s crop of perhaps 10,000-15,000, tonnes with a relatively large new crop of between 300,000-320,000 tonnes, depending on the yield of the vines.
This is good news for the UK dried fruit industry which remains Turkey’s number one customer for dried vine fruits. It is, however, less good news for other global producers of raisins such as California, South Africa and Chile, which may face stiff competition on the price of raisins over the coming months.
As reported last week, Californian raisin prices have continued to ease and some packers are now offering below USD1.3 per pound c&f Felixstowe for shipments through until September. There is uncertainty over the possible inclusion of Californian raisins in the proposed additional tariffs for US products in the dispute between the EU and US.
Reports suggest that the Turkish fig crop is progressing well, although there have been some issues with the caprification of figs which could result in a reduction in tonnage. At this early stage, growing conditions have been ideal and a new crop in excess of 70,000 tonnes is anticipated. Unsold stocks of good quality Turkish dried figs are now very limited, with the bulk of dried figs being used for local demand during Ramadan. The season will start therefore with almost zero carry-over from the previous year so it is unlikely that prices will fall significantly until the crop is safely harvested and the first shipments have been safely packed.
The continuing uncertainty in the value of the Turkish currency is likely to continue and will necessarily have an effect on export prices. The same is true for the value of sterling against the US dollar and the euro as the ongoing debate on the future of Brexit continues until the next EU deadline in October.