8th November 2018 – World Sultana Conference Optimistic for the Future of Dried Vine Fruits

The 2018 International seedless Dried Grape Producing Countries Conference was held in Windsor UK on October 26, chaired by Dappie Smit from South Africa.

This year`s conference was well attended with delegates from California, Australia, Turkey, South Africa, Chile and Argentina. Unfortunately, Iran, India, China and Greece were not represented this year.

The conference heard that global production was in line with forecast expectations and, aside from the shortage of Greek currants in the coming year, it was felt that there should be ample tonnage to meet export requirements for the year ahead. Speakers highlighted the need to encourage greater awareness of the different origins and qualities of fruit available and the need to highlight the health benefits.

The 2019 conference will be held in Australia; date to be decided.

The past week has seen a significant increase in the price of Turkish sultanas and raisins. This has been largely caused by the decrease in the value of the US dollar against the Turkish lira, which is now trading around TRY5.3 to the dollar, compared with TRY6.1 only a month ago. Although only limited quantities are being traded daily on the Izmir bourse, as an indication, good quality no 9 sultanas have been recently sold at TRY9.0 per kilo with no 8 sultanas at TRY8.9/kg and no 7 sultanas at TRY8.75/kg.

Export prices have firmed to between USD2,000-2,100 per tonne fob Izmir for ready to use type no 9 sultanas. This is a significant increase and it remains to be seen whether export demand will now reduce, as most UK buyers should have covered their forward requirements for at least the next six months and in some cases through until the new season.

The increase in the cost of Turkish fruit has partly been offset by the recent rise in the value of sterling as there is greater optimism that the ongoing Brexit negotiations may reach a successful conclusion. If, however, this is not the case, currency experts predict that the value of sterling could weaken significantly, so it is a difficult time for importers purchasing forward.
Prices of genuine Turkish Thompson seedless raisins have also increased with offers available between USD2,300-2,400/tonne fob Izmir for prompt shipment. There seem to be ample stocks of Turkish raisins available at present although stocks of darker sultanas such as type no 7 and type no 8, which can be used as a substitute, are more limited.

Offers of Greek currants are virtually non-existent with most local packers withdrawn. This is a very difficult situation for both the Greek industry and major UK manufacturers and retailers, who continue to require currants for the important Christmas trade. Although the price is largely hypothetical, where offers can be found good quality provincial currants are being quoted between EUR2,700-2,800/tonne (USD3,090-3,210/tonne) fob Piraeus.

The US raisin price has eased back with new season select Thompson seedless raisins quoted between USD1.50-1.55 per pound c&f Felixstowe for prompt shipment. This year’s US raisin crop is thought to be 250,000-255,000 (Short) tons with a carry-over from the 2017 crop of around 80,000 tons. This gives a total available figure of 330,000-335,000 tons which should be sufficient to meet both domestic and export requirements. As reported previously, exported quantities of US raisins had fallen dramatically on the back of much higher prices with reduced domestic demand also reported.