Exports of Turkish sultanas and raisins have reached 209,955 tonnes up until the end of May 2018. The total for crop 2018 was estimated at 261,000 tonnes, so there is still a balance of over 40,000 tonnes following last year’s crop.
There was also a significant carry-over from the 2017 crop as this was estimated to be 349,000 tonnes and exports up until end August 2018 only reached 279,343 tonnes.
Domestic demand and fruit used for industrial purposes will have accounted for a significant proportion of the difference in tonnage, but even so there should be ample fruit to last through until this September when the new crop becomes available.
Prices of present crop fruit remain unchanged at around USD2,100 per tonne fob Izmir for ready to use No.9 sultanas but offers of new crop are now widely available between USD1,900-2,000/tonne fob Izmir. Early indications suggest that prices may weaken further once the crop is safely harvested but most UK buyers will want to take a forward position in the not too distant future.
News from Greece suggests that despite some recent rain in the Peloponnese growing area the new crop of Greek currants could reach between 20,000-22,000 tonnes. The crop is however a little later this year and the harvest is unlikely to begin until the first days in September. This means that the first shipments will not take place until mid-September with first new crop arrivals of currants not expected until end-September.
Unsold stocks of 2018 crop currants are now very limited with prices likely to remain firm and there could be a possible shortage in the period leading up until September. New season prices should soften but local packers will be reluctant to make offers until fruit is delivered to packers’ stores for cleaning and processing.
US raisin prices remain soft with offers of current crop Thompson seedless raisins available between USD1.20-1.25 per lb c&f Felixstowe. This is lower than the domestic price of raisins which is up to 5 cents per lb higher.
Early reports are that some leading packers are looking to hold down prices for the new crop to help boost export sales and to hopefully recover lost tonnage. It is however, unclear how this can be sustained as farmers and producers will expect a good return if they are to continue growing and drying raisins rather than planting other more profitable crops.
The weakness in the value of sterling will not help and this seems set to continue until the new UK prime minister is in place at the end of July and a new policy for Brexit has been announced.
Overall the start of the summer in the UK should see a reduction in demand for dried vine and tree fruits. This year however manufacturers and retailers will be keen to keep their stocks of raw material topped up to prevent any shortages in the run up to the next Brexit deadline at the end of October.