27th June 2019 – Results of Local Turkish Elections Help to Strengthen the Value of the Turkish Lira

Exports of Turkish sultanas and raisins have reached 213,965 metric tonnes up until 15th June 2019, compared to 229,313 tonnes for the same period last year. This is something of an achievement for the Turkish dried fruit industry as export prices have been much higher this year and sales of raw material on the local Izmir bourse have now reached 11.7 TL per kilo for type number 9 sultanas. This is a very high price and the issue will be that local farmers will want to achieve similar levels in the future. The total Turkish crop is however, predicted to be in excess of 300,000 metric tonnes and despite predictions of a reduction in tonnage due to earlier rains, to date this figure looks achievable.

Reports indicate that the harvest may be two weeks later than usual and this could create a problem if farmers cut the grapes too early and the critical brix level is less than 20 degs, as the yield will be reduced due to the low sugar level. There is also the added danger of rain in early September, so much can happen before the new Turkish vine fruit crop is safely harvested. Prices of 2018 crop fruit remain firm, as many packers are fully committed with forward orders and replacement stock is expensive. New crop prices have continued to weaken and many UK buyers are waiting and watching to see where the price of sultanas and raisins will settle. As an indication new season type number 9 sultanas are being quoted between USD 1900-2000 pmt FOB Izmir for September shipment, but some more adventurous sellers who are content to take a risk are predicting that prices could fall to between USD 1800 – 1850 pmt FOB or even lower.

The hot weather throughout the Mediterranean this week may bring its own problems for vine fruit crops as there is a danger that the vines may be scorched by the unusual hot temperatures. Prudent buyers do need to take care as despite predictions of a bumper crop, problems may lie ahead.

The recent local elections in Istanbul have shown a move away from the ruling AKP party. They have also demonstrated to the wider world that the Turkish democratic system is in good order and this has resulted in an increase in value for the Turkish Lira against the US Dollar. This usually firms export prices so if the trend continues it seems unlikely that sultana and raisin prices will fall to levels of two years ago.

Exports of Turkish whole figs up until 15th June have reached 38,828 metric tonnes compared to 44,770 tonnes for the same period last year. Exports of Turkish fig paste have reached 7287 tonnes compared to 6778 tonnes for the same period last year. There are also exports of diced and roasted figs to take into account. Unsold stocks of this year’s crop are very limited with prices remaining high where good quality fruit can be found.

Turkish fig packers are optimistic about the new season fig crop although recent rains have slowed the caprification process. As in the case of Turkish sultanas and raisins the harvest is expected to be a little later this year and prices are likely to remain firm as there is a virtual nil carry-over from this year’s crop.

News from South Africa suggests that there are still unsold stocks of South African Thompson seedless rains and export prices have reduced accordingly to between USD2500-2600 pmt CIF UK. This is broadly in line with the price of Californian Thompson seedless raisins which are being quoted between USD1.20-USD1.22 per lb C&F Felixstowe for select grade TSRs.

Moving forward it seems likely that prices of dried vine fruits will remain stable for the foreseeable future and for UK buyers much will depend on the size of this year’s Turkish crop and further news is awaited.