25th October 2019 -UK Dried Fruit Importers Report Steady Demand

Global dried fruit markets are reported to be calm, with no significant shortages of raw material.

The UK however remains heavily dependent on the supply of Turkish sultanas and raisins for the majority of its requirements for both bakery and retail. This strategy has worked well for the past few years, but with the uncertain political climate in Turkey, this could be problematic in the future.

Exports of Turkish sultanas and raisins have reached 52,361 tonnes up until October 14, broadly in line with the same period last year, which was 53,699 tonnes. The average sales price, however, is significantly higher at USD2,059 per tonne fob, compared with USD1,796/tonne for the same period last year.

Exports to the UK between September 1 and October 30 2019 have reached 13,904 tonnes, compared with 12,774 tonnes at the same period last year. This quantity is more than double the amount for the next largest customer for Turkish dried fruits and reflects the continuing importance of the UK dried fruit market for Turkish producers. It is to be hoped, therefore, that Turkey will work with the UK dried fruit industry in the coming months to help promote the health benefits of dried vine fruits. This is a subject that will be raised at this year’s International seedless Dried Grape Producing Countries Conference, being held in Mildura, Australia next month.

Raw material prices of Turkish sultanas have increased to TRY10.2 (USD1.77) per kilo which equates to approximately USD1,750/tonne. As reported previously, the intervention price from Taris and the Turkish Grain Board is TRY10/kg so Turkish raw material prices have now increased above the original figure.

Overall demand for Turkish dried vine fruits is, however, steady so it seems unlikely that prices will increase significantly from present levels in the weeks leading up to the new year and they may reduce depending on the fluctuations in the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar. As an indication, good quality Turkish No. 9 sultanas are being quoted between USD1,950-2,000/tonne fob Izmir, with Turkish raisins at a premium of USD100/tonne on this figure. This is still a high price compared with other origins such as China and Iran, but so far major UK buyers have shown little appetite to change their supply from Turkey.

News from the southern hemisphere dried fruit producers is unchanged, with limited quantities of South African raisins remaining unsold at competitive prices. As an indication, good quality Choice South African Thompson seedless raisins are being quoted between USD2,100-2,200/tonne cif UK, broadly in line with the present price of Californian seedless raisins.

Available news from the US is limited but it appears that this year’s new crop of US Thompson seedless raisins will be smaller than last year. Prices, however, have remained stable with major packers keen to secure forward orders from European buyers. Californian raisins, though, have a reduced presence in home baking departments of major UK retailers following a period of high prices. There is a promotional drive by the UK-based Californian Raisin representatives, backed by the US Raisin Administrative Committee, to develop sales of Californian raisins to the bakery trade, highlighting both their versatility and health benefits. The US prune and raisin boards will be making presentations to the UK trade at an event hosted by the US Embassy and jointly organised by The Nut Association and National Dried Fruit Trade Association on November 19.

Sales of Greek currants have been progressing well this season, with much improved quality and a slight reduction in cost. The total volume of Greek currants this year is expected to exceed 22,000 tonnes which should be more than sufficient to meet forward requirements. Export prices for good quality provincial fruit have settled around EUR2,500 (USD2,780) per tonne fob Piraeus. The recent improvement in the value of sterling against the euro has helped reduce cost prices for UK buyers and should help sales to increase in the coming months.