2nd May 2019 – Warmer Weather Reduces Concerns For Possible Damage to New Season Dried Vine Fruit Crop

Exports of Turkish sultanas and raisins have reached over 180,000 metric tonnes with steady demand expected to continue through until the middle of August when the new crop becomes available. Despite some frost and hail damage over the past few weeks, present weather conditions are reported to be perfect with the expected new crop now likely to exceed 325,0000 metric tonnes. This is a significant tonnage and should make Turkey the largest producer of dried vine fruits in the world. Prices of Turkish sultanas and raisins remain steady with specially cleaned standard no 9 sultanas quoted between US$2250-US$2350 pmt FOB Izmir depending on the seller concerned. This year the differential in the price of Turkish raisins has been minimal with some packers offering Turkish raisins at virtually the same price as Turkish sultanas, whilst others may add a premium of perhaps US$50-US$100 pmt on to the price of Turkish sultanas. As reported previously Turkey continues to be the major supplier of dried vine fruits for the UK market and despite occasional issues due to fluctuations in price and weather issues has proved over the past years to be a very reliable source for the UK.

California appears however, to have changed their marketing strategy recently with the result that the export price of Thompson seedless raisins has fallen considerably from previous high levels. This has had a knock-on effect to other Southern Hemisphere raisin producers such as Chile and South Africa, who have in turn reduced their prices. As an indication, good quality US Thompson seedless raisins are being quoted between US$1.35– US$1.38 per pound C&F Felixstowe for shipments through until October when the Californian new crop becomes available. To date there has not be a significant uplift in imports of US raisins to the UK market but if prices continue to fall back and the quality remains good, it seems likely that UK buyers will look to purchase additional quantities of US fruit in the coming months.

The start of Ramadan has firmed prices of Turkish apricots and figs and Iranian and Pakistan dates. Unsold stocks of Turkish figs are now limited with total exports to date reaching just under 40,000 metric tonnes. The new crop is reported to be progressing well with caprification due to begin in about two weeks’ time. If weather conditions remain satisfactory with a dry August and September it is possible that the 2019 Turkish dried fig crop may exceed 75,000 metric tonnes based on the number of shoots visible on individual fig trees.

The end of the Easter season in the UK usually coincides with a reduction in demand for dried vine fruits for traditional bakery products. Continuing interest in healthy snacking products containing dried fruits should mean that demand will be flatter and should continue at a steady pace throughout the year. Buyers will now look to begin to cover new season contracts and it is to be hoped that if volumes increase from last year, as predicted, prices should in theory decrease. This is certainly true for Greek currants which have recently been at record levels and should fall once the new crop becomes available.