26th July 2019 – NDFTA Event Highlights Successful Trading Partnership Between Turkey and the UK

Theme was the trade between Turkey and the UK for both dried fruit and nuts

Last week saw the annual National Dried Fruit Trade Association (NDFTA) summer event and barbecue lunch, which was well attended and held in Dedham, Essex.

Simon Melik, chairman of the NDFTA made an introductory speech highlighting the activities of the association over the past year and some of the issues facing the industry over the coming months, particularly the continuing uncertainties caused by Brexit.

This was followed by a presentation by Vittorio Friedmann, a senior trader at Voicevale. Friedmann gave an overview of the dried fruit and nut trade between Turkey and the UK.

The UK continues to be largest export customer for Turkish sultanas and raisins with more than a 25% share of total exports.

Exports to the UK this year have reached a total figure of 62,250 tonnes from a total of 225,000 tonnes. Friedmann also highlighted the other major products purchased by the UK from Turkey which include dried figs, dried apricots and hazelnuts.

Turkey’s annual exports of these products to the UK are around 9,000 tonnes for figs, 5,500 tonnes for apricots and 5,000 tonnes for hazelnuts.

Friedmann also touched on the potential Brexit issues which may affect trade between Turkey and the UK. He stated that that the EU currently has a customs agreement with Turkey, but the UK cannot sign a new free trade agreement until Brexit has been completed. It is however thought likely that current tariffs will remain unchanged for a minimum period of one year.

Ogan Ceryan, from Anatolia/Whitworths, focused on the challenges facing the global dried vine fruit industry.

Ceryan highlighted the possibility that future total world production might be insufficient to meet overall demand, particularly if the acreage allocated to dried vine fruit continues to reduce, as has been the case recently in California.

He also looked at the difficulties faced by farmers with the steady increase in regulations for the use of pesticides and changes caused by spraying sultanas rather than the traditional method of dipping the whole bunch of grapes.

The UK industry is particularly conscious of the need to increase quality awareness by producers and the NDFTA’s technical committee is a leading source of information for producers worldwide.

A source in Izmir has advised that the 2019 sultana and raisin crop is progressing well and as reported previously is expected to exceed 310,000 tonnes. There will, however, be a limited carry-over from the previous year’s crop and the harvest is likely to be up to two weeks later than usual.

This means that there will strong demand for new crop fruit at the start of the season so that it is unlikely that prices will fall dramatically from the opening offers that have already been received. As an indication good quality 2019 crop Turkish No.9 sultanas are being quoted between USD1,900-2,000 per tonne fob Izmir for September shipment.

News from California is that US raisin prices have continued to ease as local packers compete with each other to obtain new export business.

Prices of select US Californian Thompson seedless raisins have fallen to between USD1.12-1.15 per pound c&f Felixstowe for shipments through until October.
This is a healthy reduction in price but unfortunately sterling has remained weak against the US dollar which has a major impact on the cost of all types of dried fruits.

The US raisin industry is however likely to increase its sales to the UK market but US raisins will remain in competition with other less expensive varieties such as fruit from Turkey and China.