25th January 2019 – Unexpected Gain in UK Sterling Benefits Dried Fruit Buyers

UK importers report steady demand for dried vine fruits as manufacturers begin to take in raw material ready for the production of Easter products, such as Hot Cross buns. The past week has seen sterling gradually strengthening in value against the US dollar and the euro, which helps reduce the cost of imported dried fruits for UK buyers.

UK IMPORTERS ARE FINDING THERE IS STEADY DEMAND FOR DRIED VINE FRUITS

Prices of Turkish sultanas on the local Izmir bourse have seen continued increases with type No.8 sultanas being quoted at TRY10.4 (USD1.96) per kilo and type No.9 at TRY10.6/kg for raw material. This reflects the continuing shortage of sultanas for packing and the overall feeling amongst packers and farmers is that there might not be enough fruit to meet expected demand up until the new crop.

Prices of Turkish No.9 sultanas have advanced slightly in US dollar terms with offers available between USD2,150-2,250/tonne fob Izmir for shipments through until the new crop. Prices of Turkish Thompson seedless raisins remain at a premium of USD150-200 per tonne on this figure.

Updated statistics from the US show that that exports of Californian Thompson seedless raisins to the UK from August 1-December 31 2018 have reached 505 short tons, which compares with 3,073 tons for the same period last year – a decrease of 85%.

Total US raisin exports to European countries for the same period have reached 5,165 tons compared with 11,629 tons. This is a reduction of 56% and puts into sharp focus the decline in US raisin exports over the past year.

The principal reason must be the significant increase in the cost of US raisins compared with other origins, but with possible global shortages and changes in duty following the UK’s predicted departure from the EU, there could be an opportunity for the US to recapture a larger share of the UK dried vine fruit market. As an indication, good quality US select Thompson seedless raisins are being quoted between USD1.48-1.5 per lb c&f Felixstowe for shipments through until September.

News from Chile suggests that the production of grapes this year is going well with no significant rainfall reported and sufficient water for irrigation which should result in a potentially good crop this year. Fresh grapes usually come predominantly from the northern part of Chile which has slightly earlier production, with the remaining quantities of grapes then being moved to the drying areas when the sugar level in the fruit has increased.

As mentioned, there is a change in the varieties of grapes being grown in Chile which may put some pressure on the quantities available of Thompsons and Flames, which are traditionally used for drying, but it is too early to have an accurate forecast.

Chile is predicting a new season prune crop in excess of 90,000 tonnes which is an almost 10% increase in production and is as a result of a better yield this year. Upwards of 75,000 tonnes should be available for export and new season prices are awaited.

The prices of Turkish dried apricots have gradually increased over the past month, in part due to the increase in value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar and also surprisingly enough due to the high cost of Turkish dried figs this year. This means that apricots are being used as an alternative product to figs.

Total sales to date are around 60,000 tonnes up until the end of January 2019 from a crop of just over 150,000 tonnes. There was also a carry-over from last year of about 20,000 tonnes which means that the remaining quantity is approximately 80,000 tonnes.

Expected sales up until the end of the season in August will be 50,000 tonnes which means that the crop year should end with a surplus of 30,000 tonnes to be carried over. These are likely to be size 6,7 and 8 as well as industrial grade fruit.

As an indication good quality whole pitted No.5 apricots are being quoted between USD2,700-2,750/tonne fob Izmir.