6th March 2020 – Demand for Dried Fruit Rises as Buyers Bring Orders Forward

Turkish dried vine fruit prices have continued to drift downwards following a period of reduced demand from the start of the year. Exports are down by over 9% year on year between September 1 2019 and February 29 2020.

Exports of both sultanas and raisins for the same period have reached a total figure of 137,999 tonnes compared with 151,649 tonnes for the same period last year. Prices of Turkish sultanas have reduced and as an indication, standard no 9 sultanas are being quoted between USD1,775-1,800 per tonne Izmir and could potentially fall even further. In part this reduction has been caused by the continuing weakness of the Turkish lira against the US dollar.

The lira reached a high of 6.259 against the dollar and is now trading around 6.18. If sales of Turkish raisins and sultanas continue at present levels, it is likely there will be a carry-over of more than 30,000 tonnes at the end of the season.

Weather conditions to date have been drier than usual and a little warmer. There is therefore a danger that the vines could bud earlier than usual and perhaps be more susceptible to frost damage, but it is still early days. The UK remains the largest export market for Turkish sultanas and raisins.

Demand from UK importers has been steady so far and could well increase if buyers look to bring forward their orders. This is likely if retailers and manufacturers require importers to hold larger stocks of raw material in anticipation of possible problems with Covid-19.

Other traditional export markets for Turkey appear to have shown a significant drop in demand and this may continue as South Africa and the US adopt more aggressive pricing for their sultanas and their Thompson seedless raisins. South Africa is on target to produce over 80,000 tonnes of vine fruits this year. This will be one of the largest South African crops in recent years. The South African 2020 crop is now approximately 30% delivered to local packers but there have been reports of some rain in parts of the producing regions. The rainfall was regional with most falling in the Friersdale area, mid-way between Kakamas and Keimoes to Uppington.

This is an important dried grape producing area and will affect the colour and quality of this year’s crop. It is likely that the quantity of South African golden raisins will be less than expected and the colour overall may be darker. This will also be true for the high-quality Choice Orange River sultanas with more fruit being dried as WP sultanas. South African prices have to date not been affected by the news and first shipments should take place later this month. News from Greece suggests that most of the Greek currants crop has now been delivered either to the independent packers or the major union.

Some farmers, however, have kept back some of their currants in the forlorn hope that prices will increase. This seems very unlikely as export demand, although steady, has not increased. Prices of provincial currants remain unchanged at between EUR2,350-2,400 (USD2,6202,675) per tonne fob Piraeus and are expected to remain at this level for the foreseeable future. South Africa is also reported to have a much larger crop of currants this year. These are grown in a different area in the Western Cape, so should be unaffected by rain and will receive a welcome market from global customers.

Figs

Total exports of Turkish figs up until 21st February 2020 have reached 42,516 metric tonnes which is an increase of 6287 metric tonnes for the same period last year. Exports of Turkish fig paste, included in these figures, have reached just over 5,000 tonnes compared to 3,355 tonnes for the same period last year.

Prices of Turkish figs have remained firm despite a much larger crop and the reduction in value of the Turkish Lira. This is slightly surprising news and perhaps reflects local producers’ expectations following several years of high prices and relatively poor crops.

As an indication, good quality no 6/no 7 natural figs are being quoted between USD4,200USD4,500/tonne fob Izmir and this price seems likely to remain steady until supplies are exhausted.