Turkish raisins continue to represent good value for money for the UK buyers.
Genuine Turkish seedless raisins are currently being quoted between USD2,100-2,200 per tonne fob Izmir for shipment through until the New year.
There is a continuing issue that darker-coloured Turkish sultanas are often substituted as raisins but are generally available at a much cheaper price. This can create confusion for buyers as genuine raisins are different in both appearance and taste.
The UK continues to be the largest importer of dried vine fruits and although the bulk of fruit imported presently comes direct from Turkey, the UK remains an important customer for other origins including the US, Australia and South Africa.
Meanwhile, Turkish sultana prices are broadly unchanged over the past week in dollar terms with standard No.9 Turkish sultanas quoted between USD1750-1800/tonne fob Izmir for prompt shipment, with a premium going forward to cover interest and storage charges.
In the US, the dramatic increase in the cost of Californian raisins, following a drop in production and currency issues has perhaps meant that Europe is seen as a less important market for the US industry than new developing markets such as Japan, Korea and China.
California remains however, at the forefront of both quality and consistency and it is to be hoped that this year`s conference will highlight the importance of the quality and reliability of different origins rather than simply the cost of the product.
This year`s US raisin harvest is now nearly complete and although the tonnage is not as high as in previous years, early expectations are that the quality will be better this year and prices hopefully more competitive.
As an indication select US Thompson seedless raisins are being quoted between 1.63-1.65¢ per lb c&f Felixstowe. The relatively poor rate of exchange between the British pound and The US Dollar does mean that US raisins continue to be expensive for UK bakery and manufacturing customers, but major UK retailers will certainly continue to stock Californian fruit as a premium product.
Greek currants/Turkish figs
Greek currants continue as an enigma with few offers and high prices. This is undoubtedly creating problems for the UK market as currants continue to be an important ingredient for seasonal products such as Christmas and mince pies. As an indication, good quality Provincial currants are being quoted between EUR2,600-2,700/tonne (USD2,962-3,076) fob Piraeus for prompt shipment.
Southern Hemisphere producers including Australia, South Africa and Chile all report steady sales and in the case of South Africa a virtual sold out position for Thompson seedless raisins. Whilst Chile still has stocks of raisins to offer, prices are increasing and fruit could well sell out before the New Year.
First new season Turkish figs have now reached European customers and have been well received despite the high prices this year. As reported previously although there is a large crop this year of Turkish figs in terms of tonnage, there are ongoing quality issues with a high percentage of damaged and split figs.
As an indication good quality natural No.6 figs are being quoted between USD4,800-5,000/tonne fob Izmir. Turkish apricot prices have also firmed slightly in part due to the strengthening of the Turkish Lira against the US Dollar but also due to a perceived shortage of good quality fruit with a low sulphur content suitable for the European market. The Turkish apricot crop is however, a large one this year so there should be ample fruit to meet export demand.