Exports of Californian Thompson seedless raisins have reached 9,735 tonnes between January 8 and April 30 this year.
This compares with 18,490 tonnes for the same period last year; a reduction of 47%. The position is even worse for exports to the UK which have only reached 1,006 tonnes, compared with 5,184 tons last year: a massive reduction of over 80%.
US GROWERS HAVE REDUCED THEIR PRICES FOR THOMPSON SEEDLESS RAISINS
This perhaps reflects the high cost of US raisins compared with other origins and the easy availability this year of fruit from Turkey, China and other southern hemisphere producers. The good news, however, is that US raisin producers have begun to take a more pragmatic view and have recently reduced their export prices for Thompson seedless raisins which, hopefully, will help sales recover.
The new crop of Chinese grape vines has just started to bloom and reports are that the weather in Xinjiang growing area is favourable. Early reports suggest that this year there may be larger quantities of traditional Chinese green raisins, which are popular on the domestic market, with fewer dark coloured sultanas available. This may mean an increase in the cost of dark Chinese raisins/sultanas for the coming year, although they are still likely to be cheaper than the Turkish equivalent.
News from Turkey is dominated by the volatility in the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, caused mainly by political uncertainty, not helped by the recent decision to re-run the local elections in the Istanbul area. As an example, the lira has been trading around TRY6.2 to USD1.00 this week, the lowest level since last September, representing a depreciation of over 8%.
This should, in theory, reduce the cost of Turkish dried vine and tree fruits, but in fact much of the benefit has been taken up by a lack of availability of raw material on the local Izmir bourse, as farmers and stockholders hold back their fruit in the hope of obtaining higher returns. Turkish ready-to-use standard no 9 sultanas are still quoted around USD2,300-2,350 per tonne fob Izmir for shipments through until August. It does seem possible, however, that with a large new crop forecast and a weak Turkish lira, prices could fall back once the harvest begins.
The start of Ramadan has seen a significant jump in the price of light coloured no 10 sultanas and a slight increase in the price of dried apricots and figs. Dried fruits remain an important part of Ramadan with a huge increase in the consumption and sale of dates.
News from South Africa suggests that the continued global availability of raisins has resulted in a reduction in demand for South African fruit. Prices of South African Thompson seedless raisins have therefore fallen and may reduce further as producers look to reduce their inventories and obtain early shipment. As an indication, good quality Choice South African Thompson seedless raisins are being quoted around USD2650/tonne cif UK with Choice Golden raisins at a much higher cost, due to a lack of availability. As an indication, prices of Choice Golden raisins range between USD3,250-3,350/tonne cif UK for shipments through until December 2019.
Our correspondent in Mildura, Australia reports that the area was engulfed by a massive dust storm on 7th May. This should not, however, have an impact on this year’s dried fruit crop as the harvest has now been completed. Prices of Australian dried vine fruits are broadly unchanged year-on-year, with first new crop arrivals eagerly anticipated later this month.