18th January 2019 – Dried Fruit Traders’ Attention Focuses on Easter Season Demand

Products in demand that use dried vine fruits include hot cross buns and Simnel cakes.

This year, Easter falls on April 21 and Ramadan begins on May 6. Ramadan usually causes an increase in domestic demand for figs, dates and other dried fruits.

THERE STILL APPEAR TO BE AMPLE STOCKS AND OFFERS OF TURKISH RAISINS, AVAILABLE AT BETWEEN USD2,350-2,450/TONNE FOB.

The major factor affecting prices over the past week has been the variation in the value of sterling against the US dollar and the euro following the continuing discussions and votes in the British parliament over the proposed UK exit from the EU.

Despite earlier pessimistic predictions, sterling has strengthened as currency traders appear to have taken the view that a hard Brexit and consequent disruption to trade is less likely (Editor’s note – the IEG Vu crew is not so sure!).

Raw material prices are broadly unchanged with Turkish No.9 sultanas quoted between USD2,100-2,200 per tonne fob Izmir for shipments through Easter and beyond. There is, however, a significant premium for better grades of fruit as this year the whole Turkish crop is darker in colour. There still appear to be ample stocks and offers of Turkish raisins, available at between USD2,350-2,450/tonne fob.

News from South Africa confirms that the new season dried vine fruit crop is progressing well but is perhaps two weeks later than last year. No rain has been reported in the production areas in the northern Cape and the weather forecast remains promising. The total projected crop of dried vine fruits is, however, slightly lower at between 60,000-65,000 tonnes, compared with 71,000 tonnes last year.

It is possible that some quantities of grapes which had previously been allocated to the fresh fruit sector may be dried this season, which should help increase overall volumes. It is thought that the total volume of golden raisins will be less this year as farmers expect a better price for Thompson seedless raisins.

The bad news, though, is that there has been some rain in the Vredendal area where South African currants are produced. This is likely to reduce the available tonnage although hopefully this will be larger than last year’s crop, which was one of the smallest for many years due to the drought. New season prices, eagerly awaited by European buyers, are expected in the next few weeks.

The news from Australia is also good with harvesting of the new crop of sultanas, raisins and currants expected to begin later next month. It is still too early to have an accurate forecast of the total tonnage and price indications are awaited.

Turkish dried apricot and fig prices have remained firm with exporters predicting a further increase in price as domestic demand rises for the Ramadan period. There are reports that some exporters have sustained heavy losses due to the significant change in the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar from the start of the season and this news may further firm prices.

Total exports of Turkish apricots have reached around 50,000 tonnes between August and end December, slightly less for the same period for the previous year. As an indication, whole pitted No.4 apricots are being quoted between USD2,500-2,600/tonne fob.

Good quality Turkish no 6 Lerida figs are USD5,200-5,500/tonne fob, where available stocks can be found, but the position for the supply Turkish figs is likely to remain difficult until the start of the new crop in September.