Shipments of Turkish sultanas have now taken place and are expected to reach the UK at the end of this month.
Demand for early shipment is exceptionally high this year due to a temporary shortage of unsold raw material in the UK.
The harvest in Turkey is continuing and although there have been reports of some sporadic rain showers, no significant damage has taken place. The rain will, however, have the effect of darkening the colour of the fruit which may slightly increase the quantity of type No.8 sultanas against type No.9 and type No.10 quality.
Prices of Turkish sultanas and raisins have fluctuated over the past few days, in part due to changes in the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, but also following the intervention of the Turkish Grain Broad (TMO) and Taris, who have opened their doors to local farmers at a higher price for raw material than presently being paid by independent packers. An issue, however, is that farmers need to wait a minimum of 20 days before receiving payment from the TMO whereas some packers are able to pay cash on delivery. Indicative prices are between USD1,900-1,950 per tonne fob Izmir for type No. 9 sultanas and USD1,850-1,900/tonne fob Izmir for type No. 8 sultanas.
Early reports suggest that the percentage of fruit dried as raisins by Turkish farmers will be less this year, so there should be ample quantities of sultanas but perhaps a slightly higher difference in price for Turkish raisins. Currently, raisins are commanding a USD100-150/tonne premium over sultanas.
News from Greece is also positive, with reports that first shipments of Greek currants are leaving the port of Piraeus. The quality is good with an expected volume of around 20,000-22,000 tonnes. First opening prices for provincial currants range between EUR2,600-2,700 (USD2,864-2,975) per tonne fob Piraeus but have now fallen back slightly as the bulk of the crop is safely harvested.
Demand for Greek currants is steady rather than strong for the UK market as many buyers have turned away from currants due to higher prices and lack of availability. Currants are, however, a traditional ingredient for a number of seasonal lines, such as Christmas puddings and mincemeat so sales should increase in the run-up to Christmas.
China is reported to have a larger crop of raisins and sultanas this year but also an increase in domestic demand. China had been a growing market for Californian raisins but at present duty is payable at over 50% on US raisins so sales have slumped. These have been replaced by exports from Uzbekistan and Chile, which has a nil duty agreement with China.
Imports of Chinese raisins to the EU and the UK market are likely to be modest this year as, despite a lower price, UK buyers prefer the quicker shipment and ready availability of fruit from Turkey. South Africa, California and Australia are likely to continue to supply the UK market with premium grade fruit, albeit at a higher price.
This year’s US raisin crop is expected to be smaller which may create some upward pressure on the price of US raisins. So far, however, demand from the UK market has not increased dramatically so prices remain steady with select grade Thompson seedless raisins available between USD1.05-1.06 per pound c&f Felixstowe.
A slight improvement in the value of sterling against both the dollar and the euros over the past few days will help kick start the new season for the UK dried fruit market but there is continued uncertainty with the end of October Brexit deadline.