UK remains world’s largest per capita importer of dried vine and tree fruits. Dried fruit is sourced from virtually all producing countries and it was therefore a good opportunity for global producers to meet at Windsor in the UK earlier this year to discuss issues facing the industry.
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE MAY BENEFIT FROM OTHER COUNTRIES’ PROBLEMS IN EXPORTING RAISINS
This year has seen significant increases in cost, particularly for dried vine fruits. Turkey remains the largest volume supplier of both sultanas and raisins to the UK. The Turkish economic crisis earlier this year and the sudden change in the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar put Turkish packers under huge pressure, with a steep increase in interest and borrowing costs.
A smaller crop also gave farmers the opportunity to seek higher prices. The result is an overall increase in cost for both Turkish raisins and sultanas and the suggestion from some UK importers that supplies of sultanas may run short before the end of the season. Most large users will, however, have covered their forward requirements, but the price increases do come at a difficult time with the uncertainties of Brexit and possible increases in customs duty and delays at ports of entry.
Welcome news could come from both the US and southern hemisphere suppliers, such as South Africa, Chile and Australia. There may also be opportunities this year for supply from China and smaller producers of raisins, including Argentina. The US remains the largest producer and exporter of Thompson seedless raisins, but poor returns for farmers have meant a reduction in acreage and a switch to more profitable crops. A recent reduction in cost and a narrowing of the difference in cost between US and Turkish fruit should see a new opportunity and it is to be hoped that the US industry will use its strong reputation for quality and reliability to rebuild sales in the UK.
Other supplying countries
Australia and South Africa also have major opportunities for growth in the UK dried fruit market, post-Brexit and the recent shortages and apparent lack of interest from Greece to develop sales of currants is just one obvious opportunity for both countries for the coming year.
Chile has seen a strong growth in sales of its flame raisins and with a buoyant fresh grape industry is at the forefront of development of new varieties of raisins, which should provide consumers with new different tastes and flavours.