Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekly cashews update

Feb 23, 2008

Cashew market continues to be quiet with a slightly soft tone.. Medium & small packers have sold W240 around 3.05, W320 around 2.75, W450 around 2.55, SW around 2.45 FOB. Large packers are still asking for higher prices but no trades reported at higher levels. Prices in Indian domestic market for Splits & LWP have also eased a bit

USA roasters have bought some quantities in last few weeks for FH 2008 shipments. Europe industry seems to be well covered for most of 2008 but importers still have to buy to fulfill earlier low priced sales. Both seem to be content to pick up some quantities to cover immediate needs and wait for newcrop trends to be stabilized before making any large purchases. This seems to be prudent because any big demand now will mean higher RCN prices and consequently, inability for processors to reduce kernel prices (especially since other costs are also going up and dollar is lower compared to 2007)

Spot RCN prices in India and Vietnam were high due to limited arrivals. Prices should ease as arrivals pick up full flow in Vietnam in 2-4 weeks and India in 4-6 weeks. For the last few years, Indian RCN has been out of reach for exporting procesors (small quantities are bought to cater to niche markets - Rest of the crop is bought by regional processors who supply the domestic market)

Prices for WA RCN have opened with parity at current kernel prices but since there is not much forward demand at current levels, processors – those who bought Indonesia & East Africa at high prices and also those who have prior sales at lower levels – are unlikely to buy large quantities unless kernel demand picks up. If this does not happen, RCN prices may ease in Mar/Apr when arrivals in West Africa are at their peak (but prices will still be higher than last season). Reasonable RCN prices would be a good thing as too high prices will adversely affect all segments of the chain and impact medium & long term demand

Overall supply position seems to be comfortable (although there might be temporary tightness from time to time).. So, trend for 2008 will depend on developments on demand side… Supply side will have impact only if there is any big decline in any origin or if prices remain unreasonably high (this should be clear by end Mar/mid April at the latest).. Meantime, we will probably see some sharp movements in market during next weeks with crop news (and rumours) affecting RCN and kernel activity.

Would appreciate your comments on market situation, views on demand and market trend, news of crop prospects and any other info / news

Pankaj N. Sampat

Mumbai India

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pistachio group selects industry veteran as leader

Pistachio group selects industry veteran as leader

The Western Pistachio Association of Fresno, Calif., has selected industry veteran Richard Matoian as its new executive director.
The association, founded in 1980, promotes pistachios growers' interests.
With the June 2007 demise of the California Pistachio Commission, a state marketing order, the association stepped in to expand membership and programs and continue work in areas such as production and nutritional research, promotion and governmental affairs.
“We are very happy to have found a leader with Richard’s experience,” says association chairman Mike Woolf. “He will be a tremendous asset in advancing the interests of the U.S. pistachio industry.”
In 2007, U.S. pistachio growers harvested a record 415 million pounds from more than 115,000 bearing acres.
For the past five years, Matoian served as manager of the Fresno-based California Fig Advisory Board, a state marketing order that promotes California-grown figs.
Previously he served as president of the Fresno-based California Grape & Tree Fruit League, a statewide trade association that represents table grape and tree fruit industries.
Matoian will officially begin his duties with the pistachio association on May 1.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Just nuts: Supermarkets thrive on women cashew workers’ poverty

New ActionAid report shows that poverty pay and dangerous conditions are the secret behind the success of UK supermarkets. Who Pays? shows that the way UK supermarkets do business with developing countries is locking women workers into appallingly low pay and dangerous conditions.

In India the report examines the explosion in black market cashew nuts processing factories and how women workers are hit hardest by the drive to cut costs, caused partly by big supermarkets’ relentless pursuit of profits:

“That’s more than I get for three weeks’ work,” Mercy, a cashew nut worker says on discovering that the kilo of cashew nuts, which she has been paid Rs 4.25 to shell, will retail for Rs 757.10 or more in a UK supermarket.

Not only does the cashew factory job pay a pittance, it is also jeopardizing Mercy’s health.

“I get pains in my knees from squatting all day. I get headaches, dizziness and vomiting from breathing in the smoke (caused by the cashew roasting process).”

Women cashew nut workers also showed ActionAid researchers the permanent scars on their hands due to the corrosive acids produced by the nuts when shelled. Workers earn as little as Rs 25.2 (30 UK pence) a day, less than half of the minimum wage.

Mercy is one of an estimated 500,000 women who process cashews for a living in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and of two million people employed by the cashew industry across India, the world’s biggest exporter of shelled cashews. Over 6,700 tonnes were shipped to the UK from the country in 2005. Of these, at least 80% are sold through supermarkets.

Profits sans human rights

Babu Mathew, country director, ActionAid India says, “Securing a minimum wage and decent working conditions is already a big challenge for women and other vulnerable workers. Pressure from big retailers to cut costs makes their struggle all the more difficult. Foreign investment has to come with human rights standards attached.”

ActionAid researchers found that for every pound shoppers spend on cashews in British supermarkets, just one penny – and sometimes only half a penny – goes to the women workers who process the nuts. Another 22 pence is shared between farmers, traders, processing companies and exporters in India.

Workers are being trapped into a cycle of poverty and insecurity as a result of UK supermarkets’ demands for lower prices and constant changes to orders.

“Core labour standards are clearly being flouted. The Indian government is obliged to ensure that these are met. Workers also need to know their rights. In Kanyakumari ActionAid is supporting a local group in educating women and children on labour standards and encouraging workers to come together to demand minimum wages and decent working conditions,” says Babu Mathew.

The core labour standards are 1. Freedom of association (the right to form a trade union). 2. No forced labour. 3. No discrimination (in pay and conditions). 4. No child labour. “When you try to cut prices you are encouraging the re-emergence of all of these things,” adds Mathew.

What can the British government do?

“The big four UK supermarkets are increasingly eager to prove their ethical credentials to their customers. In reality the supermarkets’ ever-growing profits are boosted by the scandalously low wages and appalling conditions suffered by the women who produce the food and clothes we buy every day,” said Claire Melamed, head of trade and corporates campaign at ActionAid.

UK supermarkets are currently under investigation. ActionAid is calling for the UK Government to introduce an independent watchdog that would hold supermarkets to account for their actions overseas. Even the industry’s most effective voluntary code, the Ethical Trading Initiative, has not delivered the sweeping changes needed.

Claire Melamed says, “The supermarket giants have proved unwilling or unable to police themselves effectively. The British government needs to think very hard about the kind of corporate image UK PLC wants to portray – and if it isn’t one of exploitation and hardship then it must step in now.”

“A watchdog would make sure that UK supermarkets send a bit more of the value back to countries like India and Bangladesh that produce the goods that fill their shelves. Workers would then have a better chance of taking matters into their own hands, and negotiating higher wages and better conditions,” adds Melamed.

ActionAid is also asking the Competition Commission to recommend an independent supermarket regulator as part of its ongoing inquiry into the UK grocery market


More than £7 out of every £10 spent on groceries in Britain goes into supermarket tills
Poor countries earn £7 million a day from food and clothes bought by UK shoppers in supermarkets
Women make up 60% to 90% of the clothing and fresh produce workforce in developing countries
Photo credits: Tom Pietrasik/ActionAid

actionaidspace_ asia bangladesh brasil chembakolli china guatemala india ireland italy kenya nepal nigeria pakistan spain sri lanka thailand uk usa vietnam


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Download Who Pays?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekly cashews update

Feb 9, 2008

This week, the market has been quiet but the undertone continues to be firm; offers are in the range of 3.10-3.20 for W240, 2.85-2.95 for W320, 2.60-2.65 for W450. Stray business done in the middle of the range. Indian domestic market eased a bit but the prices for brokens are still much higher than the international market. Vietnam is closed for holidays and Brazil is quiet due to limited availability

Nothing new to report on supply side – everything so far points to good availability in Mar-July but the concern still remains the price level. If prices open too high, processors will be faced with difficult choice. March will give an idea of which way things are headed but a clearer picture will be available by mid April

On the demand side, it seems that there will continue to be steady demand for nearby shipment to meet delivery commitments. There might also be some “insurance” covering by traders to protect against delays and further price increase. There will not be any big forward buying unless there are signs that market can absorb current levels which are higher than average of 2007 prices and substantially higher than average of last few years – there will be the fear that some months down the line, demand may soften due to high prices. Nobody wants to be left carrying the bag both ways – up and down

General feeling is that prices will remain firm in the very short term and move in a narrow range for the medium term.. Trend for second half of the year will depend on what prices are paid for RCN in Mar-May

What do you think about current situation ? What are your views & forecast on demand and price trends - short & medium term ? Would appreciate any info from origins and demand side

Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai India

Monday, February 04, 2008

Storm costs swell

Friday, February 01, 2008

Storm costs swell
Crop damage estimates climb into hundreds of millions

Elizabeth Larson
Capital Press

Friday, February 01, 2008

Estimates of agricultural losses as a result of January storms continue to rise in Northern California counties known for their orchard production.

Storms in early January - specifically Jan. 4 - dealt serious damage to the Northern Sacramento Valley counties of Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Sutter, Yuba and Colusa.

Hardest hit was Butte County, with about $69 million in damages, a figure that includes not just the coming year's crops but the replacement costs for mature trees and lost income to growers, said Robert Maurer, county executive director of Butte County's Farm Service Agency.

"Almonds were the hardest hit," said Maurer, who said that they're estimating $65 million just for the county's damaged almond acreage, with $2.2 million in losses for plums and $1.9 million for walnuts.

Maurer said the process of seeking emergency funds has started, but he said funding is very tight right now.

To get emergency funding, he said, there usually has to be an emergency designation, which is triggered by a 30-percent crop loss. This is an unusual case, said Maurer, because the losses aren't restricted to crop damage.

Nick Oliver, supervising agriculture and standards biologist for Sutter County's Agriculture Department, put that county's initial losses at $13.6 million, with overall damages at $60.5 million.

Winds in some areas of Sutter county, especially around the Sutter Buttes, reached 70 miles per hour, Oliver said.

That played havoc with the area's almonds which, like those in Butte, were hit hardest. Sutter has only about 5,000 acres of almonds - far smaller than Butte's 39,000 acres - and so the county's overall losses were higher. Oliver said growers lost 50 percent of their crop.

Other commodity crop losses totaled 15 percent for prunes, 10 percent for English walnuts and 3 percent for cling peaches.

Glenn County Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Jean Miller estimated that the accumulated damage to Glenn's agriculture totaled $48 million, a figure which also accounts for long-term losses due to downed mature trees.

"When you lose a tree, you've lost 10 years of production and most of the trees were in their prime," she said.

The Jan. 4 storm brought fierce winds which was a major factor in destruction of orchard trees.

"I don't remember storm damage this bad over the last 10 years at least, maybe even longer," Miller said.

The wind also knocked down telephone poles which caused power outages, resulting in thousands of gallons of milk and cream being dumped by area dairies and cheese processors, Miller said.

Other losses included damaged bee hives and a 50-percent loss on the county's navel orange harvest, the latter totaling about $270,000.

In Colusa County, Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Jon Richter totaled this year's crop damage for orchards at $5 million, with replacement and production costs at $14 million for a $19 million total.

"We put in for a crop disaster designation with the Office of Emergency Services," Richter said.

The Padre variety of almond tree, in the 15- to 20-year-old range, seemed to be the biggest victim of the winter winds, Richter said. Many of the trees had not rooted deeply enough, they were planted on an east-to-west pattern and their larger canopies caught the winds.

Rick Gurrola, agriculture commissioner for Tehama County, said almonds, walnuts and prunes took the brunt of the damage from the storm in his county, with almonds projected at a nearly $4 million loss, with all crop damage and losses totaling $18.5 million.

Yuba County Agricultural Commissioner Louie B. Mendoza Jr. said their prunes were hit hardest, especially older orchards. Walnuts and peaches had minor losses.

The winter weather "has slowed down operations quite a bit," he said.

The county's overall agriculture losses are at $7.4 million, a figure which Mendoza said includes some infrastructure, such as damaged shops, buildings and packing houses.

Elizabeth Larson is a staff writer based in Lucerne. E-mail:

Weekly cashews update

Feb 2, 2008
In the last few days, there has been reasonable activity in the cashew market and prices have moved up a few cents. Business done to USA & Europe - W240 around 3.10, W320 around 2.80, W450 around 2.55 FOB. Most of the trades were for nearbys but some business was done for second quarter as well. Vietnam has been quiet as people started going away for holidays
Spot RCN prices are firm and this is likely to continue in Feb till new crops start in Vietnam, India, West Africa from March onwards. Weather conditions in all these origins have been good and if nothing adverse happens in next few weeks, we can expect good crops in all the origins. RCN price trend will depend on how processors operate in the first few weeks of the crop.
Situation is very difficult. If kernel demand is strong in Feb/Mar, processors will be inclined to be aggressive at the beginning the season and this will put upward pressure on prices. And if kernel market does not support the higher levels, there is a risk of processors holding high priced inventory. If kernel demand slows down, processors might be able to keep away from RCN buying for some time and this will help to keep RCN prices at reasonable levels.
Feb/Mar will be crucial months – trend and volume of kernel activity in this period will have significant impact on the cashew market for rest of the year
Would appreciate your views on the market situation - esp. on the demand side and also how you feel market will move in coming weeks / months + any info from origins
Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai India