Turkish sultana and raisin prices have firmed slightly over the past few days following the improvement in the exchange rate of the Turkish lira against the US dollar.
This has changed from a low of TRY6.3 to USD1.00 to TRY5.60/USD1.00, which in theory should increase the export price of dried vine fruits in dollar terms.
Demand remains high with many major UK manufacturers and retailers looking to cover their annual requirements of Turkish sultanas and raisins for the coming 12 months. There is also the added complication of the ongoing “Brexit” negotiations, which continue to cause uncertainty for UK customers. Requirements vary from customer to customer but, in some instances, UK importers are being asked to increase the stocks of raw material they are holding in case there is any disruption when Brexit takes place next March.
This is a good suggestion in theory but, in practice, most importers use third party food approved storage warehouses and there will be limited space available. There is also the added cost of storage and interest charges as most raw material is traditionally bought on a net cash basis from overseas suppliers.
The coming months do, therefore, look problematic and there is a general feeling in the UK trade that prices of dried vine fruits will increase as the season progresses. At present, specially cleaned standard no 9 Turkish sultanas continue to be quoted between USD1,800-USD1,850 per tonne Izmir with lesser grades such as type no 8 at a discount to this figure. Genuine Turkish raisins are quoted between USD2,100-2,200/tonne but, again, darker coloured fruit such as type no 7 can be found as a substitute for a discount on this figure.
The continuing shortage of new offers of Greek currants is creating problems in the busy run-up to Christmas. This means that manufacturers may need to find alternatives for currants which could create further pressure on the raisin and sultana markets. Prices of Greek currants remain unchanged with good quality new crop provincial fruit being quoted between EUR2,600-2,800 (USD3,000-3,230) per tonne fob Piraeus.
The principal difficulty, however, is to obtain offers from origin, but in theory fruit does remain and it is to be hoped that local farmers and packers will take a more realistic approach going forward than has been the case so far.
Demand for US raisins remains limited as the cost of US fruit is still much higher than the equivalent Turkish alternative. Iran has also produced a good crop of sultanas and raisins this year, but ongoing political friction makes importing dried fruit from Iran problematic. Total exports of US raisins in September fell to 31,700 tonnes, a massive 44% drop on the same period the previous year. Europe accounted for only 2,210 (short) tons of natural Thompson seedless raisins with the UK a mere 190 ton. It is difficult to know where the US raisin export market will go but, hopefully, the realisation that sales have fallen so much will encourage packers to offer their fruit at more competitive levels.