Monday, March 17, 2008

Almond Market Update from Ned

Dear Friends:

Almond bloom is almost complete and pollination conditions were almost perfect the past 3 weeks. Accordingly, most expect a record 2008 crop—the 3rd record crop in a row. Until 2007 we had never had even 2 record crops in a row. The record crops are the result of increased plantings in 2003, 4 & 5 that are coming into production in 2006, 7 & 8. In April, we’ll have a look at the crop set on the trees, followed by the May crop and acreage estimates. With more than 50,000 more acres coming into production, I would expect the 2008 crop to exceed 1.4 billion. I would also expect that this will be a year similar to past record almond crops—starting at a low price with strong contracting and shipments bringing prices up as we move through harvest.

We all like to see a big crop but don’t like the price adjustment that goes with it. Almonds prices have come down .15 to .20 per lb over the past month. Buyers are waiting for some stability before stepping in to contract. Second hand traders have tried to move the price for Std S/R down into the mid 1.50’s but sales from California seem to have leveled off in the 1.60 to 1.65 range for 2007 and 2008 crops. The 1.50 price range for Std grade makes grower prices close to the cost of production and that is usually where prices stop.

A week ago, the Almond Board showed February shipments of 86 million—up 18%, compared with 73 million a year ago. Year to date shipments are 784 million—up 15% over last year. We expect to stay on this track and finish with a carry out inventory of about 240 million—100 million more than the past several years. This will make for a smoother transition to 2008 crop and keep market prices similar for the 2 crop years.

Following are approximate market prices, unpasteurized.
2007 crop (2008 is similar)
Nonpareil Supreme 23/25 2.50 USD/lb FOB/FAS California
Nonpareil Supreme 27/30 2.15
Carmel SSR 23/25 AOL 1.95
Butte SSR 27/30 AOL 1.75
Cal Std unsized 5% 1.65
Blanched Sliced 2.55

Happy St Patrick’s Day to all those with Irish blood, Irish names or Irish spirit. Please send your comments and questions.

Best regards, Ned

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