Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pecan crop down but not out

By William Pack - Express-News Between the drought, an untimely freeze and heavy rain in early fall, pecan growers in Texas faced challenges this year that will keep the holidays from being as cheerful as they might have been.

“We were going to have a real good crop and everything went wrong with it,” said Kenneth Pape with Pape Pecan House in Seguin.

His own orchards produced about 30 percent of an average crop.

“First not enough rain, then too much rain,” he said.

But Texas is a big state with a lot of growing areas that make it the third-largest pecan producer in the nation, trailing Georgia and more recently New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports.

Growers in South Texas around San Antonio and southwest toward Eagle Pass may have experienced the worst problems because they harvested earliest when rains were the heaviest.

Central and West Texas growers weren't spared rain problems, either, and many also dealt with a spring freeze that weakened early-maturing varieties.

Still, officials said irrigation practices and quality control efforts have kept the pecan count in Texas decent.

The USDA says Texas will produce 60 million pounds of the nut this year, about 14 percent less than two years ago, the last “on year” in the alternating production cycle of pecans.

Cindy Wise, executive vice president of the Texas Pecan Growers Association, said weather issues should not cause severe problems.

“It's actually going pretty good considering all the rain we've had,” said Larry Stein, a Texas A&M University horticulturalist at its extension research center in Uvalde. “It did hinder quality a little, but it didn't ruin it.”

Consumers across Texas may not notice much difference.

H-E-B spokeswoman Dya Campos said that early in the holiday season, pecans were slightly smaller than normal. The grocery chain only gets pecans from Texas growers, Campos said, but H-E-B has gotten about the same amount of pecans as normal from its growers, and the price is about the same as last year.

Pape, who buys and sells pecans throughout Texas, said demand initially was weak but recently, “everyone wants them.”

Even China has started buying pecans in a big way, which has strengthened prices for growers in the past weeks, Pape said.

Prospects for growers will vary depending on when their crop matures and the effects of freezing temperatures and rain.

Some nuts may have received rains at the right time for them mature. But others that already had matured or could not be harvested because of flooded fields may have sprouted or developed other problems that affected their quality.

Tera Macmanus, who with her husband owns Pleasant Valley Pecans near Pleasanton, said she only harvested about a third of her crop because of sprouting problems caused by rains.

“There's not much you can do about it,” Macmanus said. “That's just farming.”

Monday, November 02, 2009

Weekly Cashews Update

OCT 31, 2009

In week 44, cashew market moved up a few cents on W320s. There was a reasonable amount of activity with USA but other markets were quiet. General prices levels were W240 between 2.85 and 2.90, W320 around 2,70 and W450 around 2.40 FOB.

In Tanzania, RCN has started moving to the warehouses and it is expected that first auctions may take place next week. Indicative prices are above US$ 1000 but it is to be seen at what prices business is actually done.

For the last few weeks, cashew market has been moving in a narrow range and there has been steady activity with some market or the other. But there is a general reluctance amongst most sellers & buyers to take any big positions. We feel that the pattern we have seen in the last several months – buying for nearbys – will continue and this will provide a floor to the market. As we said before, the fact that forward contracting has been lower than normal can make the market volatile – any pressure to buy or sell or any change on supply side can move market suddenly & significantly.

Consumption in USA & EU in 2009 has not been as bad as initially expected. Most of the decline was because of lack of product on the shelves rather than an actual move away from nuts. We strongly feel better supply means better consumption because for a snack product a missed sale is a lost sale because very rarely is a snack purchase postponed – the customer buys something else. The decline in USA & EU consumption has been more than compensated by the strong growth in Asia. As affected areas come out from the crisis and roasters & retailers put more product on the shelves, we can reasonably expect better consumption in 2010.

Sales in the current quarter will give buyers an idea of how much they need to buy for FH 2010. If the nearby buying trend continues into first half of 2010 then we may not see any major move in prices for quite some time. If demand in first quarter 2010 is strong, we can expect slightly higher prices through 2010 because RCN demand prices in second quarter will be strong & firm. If demand is weak in first quarter, processors may not be in hurry to buy RCN at beginnng of second quarter which could mean lower RCN prices and consequently, kernel prices may settle few notches lower than current range.

To sum up, we expect a steady market for next 2-3 months and activities in first quarter to determine the broad market range and trend for 2010.

What do you think about market ? Would appreciate your comments on current situation and views on trends for the coming months + any interesting news / info

Pankaj N. Sampat

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekly Cashews Update

OCT 24, 2009 There is nothing new to report about the Cashew market. Prices are unchanged i.e. W240 around 2.90, W320 around 2.65, W450 around 2.40 FOB. Reasonbale business being done to various markets but there is no strong demand from any market. At the same there is no strong selling pressure from any origin. Market seems to have settled in a “comfortable” mode.
RCN market is quiet with no movement from Tanzania so far (although we are at the end of Oct). There are unconfirmed reports that shipments from Mozambique may start earlier than usual. Limited quantities of good quality RCN in India being traded at reasonable prices but there is fair amount of low quality RCN which has no takers. Due to the delayed Brazil crop, there is a wide variety of estimates and the continuing strength of the currency is another concern.
Although there is a steady flow of enquiries from small buyers for prompt shipment, we have not seen any big buying interest from large buyers. This means that they will be drawing down on inventories at the end of the year and depending on strength of physical offtake in the fourth quarter, they will need to buy small or big quantity for first quarter shipments.
There will be a reasonable quantity of RCN in the first quarter (esp because of the delay in Brazil crop) but that might be compensated by demand from all markets for first quarter shipments (as the volume of forward business has been much lower than normal). If the demand is steady, prices will remain in the current range with a possibility of slight softening to the lower in the second quarter. IF demand in first quarter is strong, prices will remain close to (or even cross) the high end of the current range and this will keep prices steady when we move into the big harvesting period of second and third quarters. A big decline in prices is possible only if demand in first half is weak COUPLED with good crops in Northern Hemisphere.
To sum up, unless something dramatic happens, we can expect range bound market for next few months with a small chance of big increase or big decline but with good chance of increased volatility within current range,
What do you think about the market situation ?? Would appreciate your views on demand trends, forecast of market movement, news from origins and any other news / info
Regards,Pankaj N.

Monday, October 19, 2009

AU: Almond industry celebrates success

The Australian almond industry has recorded its most successful almond blossom season to date with record almond sales and festivities held across the almond growing regions.

This year’s almond blossom season extended from late July through till late August.

Throughout this year’s almond blossom season, the Almond Board of Australia (ABA) ran a public relations campaign, advertising as well as in-store promotion in both Coles and Woolworths. The in-store promotion included point-of-sale materials such as posters, shelf wobblers and free almond blossom tins attached to 750 gram bags of natural Australian almonds.

Marketing director at Select Harvest, Matthew Graham, said the almond blossom promotion had been a great success.

“The almond blossom in-store promotion exceeded all expectations with record shipments of almonds delivered to both Coles and Woolworths. It is great to see the sale of almonds is on the rise with results of this almond blossom campaign going above and beyond the results of previous almond promotions,” said Graham.

According to Julie Haslett, CEO of the ABA, domestic consumption of almonds has increased in the last year.

“Australians are eating more almonds than ever before, with domestic consumption having increased by over 10 per cent in the last 12 months,” Haslett said.

Australia currently produces around 3 per cent of the world’s almonds. Over the next three years, as existing plantings reach full maturity, it is forecast that Australia will surpass Spain (8 per cent) to become the world’s second largest almond producer, behind California (82 per cent).

The key almond growing areas around Australia include Sunraysia in Victoria, the Riverland and Adelaide in South Australia and the Riverina region in NSW.

The Almond Board of Australia (ABA) is a non-profit, membership-based organisation representing the interests of Australian almond growers, processors and marketers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cashew market Oct.3

Cashew market OCT 3, 2009

continued to be steady with a firm undertone.. There was a fair amount of business in W320 in 2.60-2.70 FOB range. Most of the sales were to USA & some to off markets. Europe was quiet. Other grades were also steady i.e. W240 between 2.85-2.90, W450 between 2.35-2.40 FOB - stray sales reported. Only a few processors in India & Vietnam have participated in recent activity. Most of the large processors in both origins are waiting to see how things develop. Brazil continues to be quiet due to crop delay & currency situation but we expect some activity from them in Oct/Nov.

RCN prices moved up a bit due to Vietnam buying of IVC in the 725-750 range plus possible delays in movement from Tanzania. Initial reports indicate that Govt may fix farmgate price equivalent to approx US$ 1000 which is about 10-12% higher than current kernel prices (depending on outturn). Official announcement is expected next week.

European enquiries for next year contracts began early and some contracts have been made. Some more contracts are expected to be finalised in coming weeks. Limited selling interest from origin, wide price range, currency fluctuation seem to be delaying decisions. Given the fact that current prices are lower & economic situation outlook is much better than last year, one would expect that roasters & retailers would take larger positions but the uncertainty of price (and currency) trend might result in only part volumes being contracted now.

Asian consumption growth is strong. Many other markets are also showing signs of growth in consumption but a proper trend will be known only after 2-3 quarters of growth. Some buyers are showing interest to cover forward requirements at current levels but processors do not seem to be inclined to sell unless they can get a premium.

If the current standoff due to wide difference in selling & buying ideas continues, we might enter 2010 with lower than normal volumes covered for forwards and this will increase volatility in the first quarter which will make things difficult for all stakeholders.

We expect market to move in a narrow range in the next few weeks with steady activity for nearbys around current levels and slightly higher levels for forwards (in case buyers decide to cover more volume for FH 2010).

Please advise your views on market + news of recent activity / offers + your forecast of demand & price trend + any other info / news

Pankaj N. Sampat

Thursday, September 17, 2009

R.L. “Pete” Turner September 17, 2009



The National Agriculture Statistics Service has announced the California 2009 walnut crop at 415,000 tons, down 5 percent from 2008 production. The crop survey was conducted between August 1 and August 22, 2009. NASS “objective” estimate is 16,000 tons more than the Handlers July “subjective” estimate (399,000 tons); and as of now, most of the walnut industry believe the crop will come in somewhere between these two numbers.

The official survey has the “nut set” for Hartley’s at 2001, up 34 percent and the Chandlers “nut set” at 1,346, down 6 percent. However, as he does every year, Vic Tolomeo, Director of NASS’s informed the industry that the “net set” carries very little weight in determining the overall tonnage of a variety.

As an example, Hartley’s, one of the industries oldest varieties has had no significant new plantings over the past 15 years; and are down to less than 40,000 acres. The production of Hartley’s is also declining and if we use the past four year average (1.5 tons/acre) we will have about the same tonnage as last year (60,000 tons). My projection for Hartley’s is 62,000 tons (up 2,000 tons) and Chandlers at 159,000 tons (down 18,000 tons).

Packers are now receiving the early varieties (Serr’s, Ashley’s, and Payne’s) and so far, they look OK. However, it will be another week before we can determine a trend for color, insect/mold and sunburn damage and oil-less nuts.

The August shipments of 31,000 tons (inshell eqv.) is another record shipping month; up 145 percent over last August (10,800 tons). Both export and domestic markets contributed to the record numbers.

California Walnut Shipment Recap

Month (August) 2007/08 Year to Date 2008/09 Year to Date Diff. (YTD)

Inshell Pounds (000) 63 118,768 378 173,549 54,781 (46%)
Shelled Pounds (000) 10,812 237,992 26,665 283,882 45,890 (19%)
Total (Inshell eqv. tons) 12,662 337,413 31,051 415,342 77,929 (23%)

The August shipments puts my final 2008 crop walnut supply and utilization carry-over (based on 43.2% “shell out rate”) at 54,000 tons. However, the “shell out rate” will most likely be adjusted once the final inventories have been tallied late this month by the California Walnut Board. My guess is the adjusted rate will be close to 44.0 percent, making the carry-over around 65,000 tons.


Although the 2009 crop is projected to be down from last years record crop, most of the industry believes that strong export demand and favorable exchange rates will continue to drive the market. Early trades seem to support this assumption and current booking activities have increase since the export opening prices were set last Friday.

The opening for Jumbo Hartley’s is $1.20, and Chandler Light Halves and Pieces 20% is $2.45. Most recent trading activities on both packs have been close to these numbers.

Jumbo Inshell Chandler’s are trading at $1.35 and I believe this will be short lived, especially if the Chandler crop comes in at the projected levels. Also, the USDA School Lunch Program will help keep the domestic shelled market and shipping levels up, at least through December when the program ends.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.



This is a great salad and works for your diet!

tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 c. thinly sliced red cabbage
1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
Whisk first 4 ingredients in bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add cabbage and apple; sprinkle with walnuts.

Monday, August 17, 2009


R.L. “Pete” Turner August 16, 2009


The California Walnut Handlers have announced their 2009 crop “subjective” estimate at 399,000 tons. The official “objective” crop forecast from CASS will be announced first week of September.

July shipments of 27,502 tons (inshell eqv.) makes seven straight months of record distribution for the walnut industry. Inshell shipments have slowed somewhat but the Shelled material continues to move at record levels.

A small amount of the USDA School Lunch material shipped during this period; however, the bulk of this tonnage (shelled) will be shipped between August and December.

California Walnut Shipment Recap

Month (July) 2007/08 Year to Date 2008/09 Year to Date Difference (YTD)

Inshell Pounds (000) -170 118,706 1,366 173,171 54,465 (49%)
Shelled Pounds (000) 13,581 227,180 23,171 257,218 30,038 (13%)
Total (Inshell eqv. tons) 15,781 324,750 27,502 384,291 59,541 (18%)

This year’s YTD shipment of 384,291 tons (inshell equivalent) is 18 percent more than last year; and I expect that August will be another record shipping month for the industry.
As noted last month, I anticipate some confusion on the 2008 crop carry-over number. My walnut shipment model shows we will have a 57,000 ton carry in from the 2008 crop. This is based on the official California Walnut Board’s “shell-out rate” of 43.2 percent. However, industry leaders believe the CWB will adjust the “shell-out-rate” to a higher number, possibly adding 15,000 to 20,000 tons to the carry in. I believe the CWB will announce the revised “shell-out rate” in early September.
As noted above, the Packers have set their 2009 crop “subjective” estimate at 399,000 tons, 35,000 tons less than last year. They are also projecting the Chandler crop at 152,000 tons, 25,000 tons less than last year and the Hartley’s at 57,000 tons, about the same as last year. The early varieties tonnage should be down considerably from the 2008 crop.
It is still a little early but so far, most of the growers are anticipating excellent quality and larger than average nut size. They also believe the crop will be a few days earlier than last year and expect to start harvest of the early varieties the first and second weeks of September.


Everyone in the industry will be watching the Pacific Rim countries (Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan) to see if they will continue at record levels they set for the 2008 crop. As an example, so far the industry has shipped 29.9 millions pounds of Inshell compared to 1.6 million last year. They are also ahead of last year for Shelled material with 46.3 million pounds shipped to date, compared to 34.4 million last year.

The Middle East (Egypt, Israel, Turkey, U.A.E.) are also at record pace with Inshell at 37.3 million pounds (18.2 million last year) and Shelled at 15.8 million pounds compared to 7.1 million pounds last year.

Europe is slightly ahead of last year on both Inshell (73.4 million pounds) and Shelled (32.4 million pounds).

It is too early to predict if these market will keep pace with last year, but early enquiries are much more active than in the past, so it’s possible this market will remain strong.

Except for some early 2009 crop bookings, the current markets is quite, but expect heavier activity toward the last half of the month. Early shipments of Inshell (2008 crop) will start hitting the docks and the USDA School Lunch Program will be in full swing. So, I have no doubt that August will be another record shipping month for the industry.

Inshell material is basically gone and except for some Combination inventories, most of the Chandler and Light material have been sold off. The last I heard was Jumbo Hartley’s were still in the $1.20 range and Light Halves and Pieces between $2.40 and $2.55. Also, for what ever it is worth, I believe opening prices will be at or very near these levels.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comment.



Forget your diet and try this one:

3/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into bits & softened
1 c. walnuts, toasted lightly, cooled & chopped
3 lb. Gravenstein or other tart apples, peeled & sliced
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp. sugar
Combine the flour, the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the bits of butter to this mixture and blend until it resembles coarsely ground meal. Stir in the walnut bits.
In another bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and sugar. Turn the apple mixture into a buttered 10 inch pie pan and cover the fruit evenly with the topping mixture. Bake the crisp in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with a scoop of caramel ice cream.
Serves 8.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Turkey: Prices going nuts, hazelnut producers say

Turkey: Prices going nuts, hazelnut producers say

Hazelnut production has become quite troublesome for producers due to government incentives deemed unsuitable by hazelnut producers.

The overstocked inventories have caused prices to remain unstable, according to Hazelnut Promotion Group, or FTG. "The excessive amount of incentives provided by the government has generated overproduction, making hazelnut production one of Turkey’s major problems," said Kamil Yavuz, executive board member of FTG, speaking at a press conference Tuesday.

Turkey’s annual hazelnut exports are worth between $1 billion to $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, the Turkish government spent $1 billion for the production of hazelnuts within the past year, he said. "T that money could have been used to build new schools and industry centers."

Other countries such as Chile, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have also started to produce hazelnuts, Sevinç said. "If we continue to use our natural resources badly other countries will take the leadership of hazelnut production, unless we determine a suitable policy."

Almond Crop Likely Not As Big As Thought

June 30, 2009
The June 30 objective almond forecast for the 2009-2010 crop year is 1.35 billion meat pounds, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service – California Field Office (NASS/CFO). This forecast is based on 710,000 bearing acres.
Doug Flohr, statistician for USDA-NASS, California Field Office, said the forecast is down 7% from the May 8 subjective forecast of 1.45 billion pounds. The estimate is also down 16% from last year’s crop of 1.61 billion pounds. The average nut set per tree is 5,589, down 25% from the limb-busting 2008 almond crop. The average nut set of the industry’s flagship variety, Nonpareil, is 5,136, down 27% from last year's set. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.58 grams, up 10% from last year.
The 2009 crop is down in part because of a difficult spring, and looks to be about two weeks behind. Bloom progressed slowly due to wet conditions, and wet weather hampered pollination. Cool temperatures did extend the almond bloom in parts of the Sacramento Valley. In addition, freezing temperatures in March caused damage to some almond orchards.
The official announcement was made Tuesday at the Modesto office of the Almond Board of California (ABC), which pays for the forecast. Following the announcement, Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California, expressed confidence in the industry's ability to continue to market California almonds and grow global demand.
“While the objective estimate has been lowered somewhat from the subjective estimate, the efforts of the ABC to further develop global markets by expanding the demand for California almonds continue undaunted,” he said. “The organization looks forward to a very successful crop year in which millions of additional consumers worldwide begin including California almonds in their daily diets.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


June 20, 2009

Cashew market was reasonably active this week. Prices moved up 5-10 cents for W320 and a bit on other grades too. Business was done with USA, Europe and other markets for W240 between 2.80-2.85, W320 up to 2.50/52, W450 between 2.25-2.30, SW320 around 2.35, FB between 1.90-95 FOB. Not much being offered from Vietnam but some processors sold small quantity few cents lower than India.

Nothing new to report on RCN – not much is available in origins. Prices moved up slightly this week in the resale market. Brazil crop may be delayed (as we said in our last report) and currency strength is causing some concern to processors there. RCN supply & price for major portion of 2009 crop are now known and factored into the current levels.

Usage in first half was not as bad as initially feared. Kernel inventories are low. Offtake in third quarter and timing of next round of buying will determine price trend for rest of the year and first half of next year.

If we look at price pattern for last few months, we will see that there have been periodic dips and spurts in activity (and price)… after each spurt, the price has been settling at slightly higher level. It is expected that this trend will continue until the 2010 crops start arriving.

For next few weeks – maybe 2/3 months – we feel that prices will move in the 2.40-2.60 FOB range. If demand in Jul-Sep is normal, prices will probably remain around middle of this range. If demand is strong in Jul-Sep, it is quite possible that prices will go above this range. Downside below this range is limited.

Would appreciate your comments on the market situation, your views on demand and price trends, news from origins & main importing countries and any other info

Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai – India

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

MAY 30, 2009

Cashew market has been very quiet for more than two weeks now. This resulted in sales by some processors for W320 at slightly lower levels. Business done during this week was around 2.85 for W240, between 2.40 and 2.45 for W320 and arojnd 2.25 for W450 mainly with off markets. USA & Europe have been quiet – although there is some interest for forwards, their buying ideas do not match sellers expectations.

RCN market has been steady at the higher levels. IVC is trading in wide range between 750 and 850 depending on quality. GB moved up from 825-850 to 950-975. Shipments from IVC are progressing well but yields are very low. Shipments from GB have not started yet.

It seems that current stalemate in kernel market will continue for some time. Processors are unlikely to be aggressive sellers unless kernel prices move up as they are buying RCN at high prices. Kernel buyers will not start taking forward positions until they have a better idea of consumption trends. Till then, they will continue to cover needs as they arise and this will support market at current levels.

As we said in our last report, it seems that kernel availability in 2009 will be 5-10% lower than 2008 and this will (more or less) cancel out any drop in usage. So, unless there is a much bigger drop in usage, lower prices should not be expected more so because bulk of the RCN for 2009 processing has been bought at higher levels.

In summary, we expect market to trade around current levels for the next few weeks and a price range of 2.35 to 2.55 FOB for rest of the year. Any major move outside the range will happen in Jul/Aug depending on when and how much buyers need to buy for shipments in 2009. If they have to come in early to buy significant volume, prices could move up sharply. If they can wait longer and need to buy only small volumes, we could see prices stabilise at lower end of the range

What do you think about market situation ? Please share your views about market trend and any other info / news

Pankaj N. Sampat

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


R.L. “Pete” Turner May 25, 2009



In my February walnut market/crop report I mention that the official California 2008 crop received by the Handlers was established at a record 434,000 tons; 79,000 tons more than the previous largest crop (2005). I believe I also stated that due to world financial mess and the by far largest crop in history, we would have plenty of walnuts available for a long time. Well….I’m 0 for 3!! I not only missed with my 2008 crop estimated by 80,000 tons, the world financial situation was short lived (at least for walnuts), and now, it looks like we will basically be out of walnuts by the new 2009 crop harvest.

It’s amazing what five months of record shipments will do for an industry. Especially, when we have a shipping month like the one we had in April. Most of this record shipping activity can be attributed to low pricing and a short China crop.

The California Walnut Board announced the April shipments at 40,585 inshell equivalent tons; 20,145 tons more than last year. Inshell shipments were 19.7 million pounds, compared to 1.7 million pounds last April. Shelled shipments were 26.7 million pounds, 9.8 million pounds more than last year. Total inshell equivalent year to date shipments are 290,288 tons: compared to 271,591 last year (up 7%).

Everyone in the industry was surprised by the April shipments which was the largest shipping month since October 2008 and the second largest shipping month since November 2007. And these numbers do not include the first flight (10.5 million pounds shelled walnuts) for the USDA School Lunch Program which is scheduled to start shipping in July and ending in October. Thus, we can expect the heavy monthly shipments to continue right up to new crop.

It is still too early to predict the 2009 crop, but industry leaders believe it will be significantly less than the 2008 crop. The Handlers will have their “subjective” estimate in late July, but right now, many believe it will be 350,000 to 375,000 tons.


The past several months record shipments have greatly reduced inventories, especially Chandlers and Hartley’s; which have basically sold off. The prices for Chandler LHP were $1.85 in early April with recent trades taken place at $2.25. Now that the Chandlers are gone, regular Light material is also fading fast. Regular LHP have jumped from $1.65 last month to $2.00 this week and Combo material is following the same path.

Jumbo Hartley’s that were selling at $0.85 in late March and are now demanding somewhere around $1.25. Again, that is if you can get them. This being said, I am sure there may be some packers offering lower pricing, however, I am just not aware of them.

The out look on the forward market is a lot different than a few months ago. It appears that the heavy demand for walnuts will continue and will most likely see continued strengthening of the market. However, I do not believe we will see prices reach the levels we experienced last year.

The walnut health message continues to expand as new studies show even more health benefits from eating walnuts. The most recent is from a study showing that walnuts have reduced the occurrence of breast cancer in mice. More on this later.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comment.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

MCX launches futures trading in Almond for the 1st time

Published on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 20:34 , Updated at Tue, May 12, 2009 at 20:36 Source : press release

MCX (Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd.), India’s leading commodity futures exchange has launched trading in “Almond”. This is the first time in the world when Almond is available for trading on futures trading platform. MCX received the approval from the regulator – FMC and launched “Almond (Non Pariel)” September contract today. The first trade was executed at Rs. 318 per kg and made a high of Rs 330.75. The participation was seen from more than 100 participants across India. At the end of first trading session, the contract witnessed total volume of 5,13,500 kgs valuing at Rs. 16.89 crores with open interest as 64,000 kgs.
The trading unit for the contract is 500 kgs with price quote as ex- Delhi (exclusive of VAT, other taxes and levies). It will be a compulsory delivery contract with deliveries at the exchange designated cold storages in Delhi and Navi Mumbai. The delivery unit will be 1 MT. The initial margin required to trade will be 5% of the contract value.
The MCX Almonds futures will provide a viable platform to hedge against price and supply risk faced by entire gamut of almond value chain participants like, importers, agents, brokers, traders, wholesalers, retailers, processors, confectioners and other consumers. The participants would be able to manage their sales and purchase of inventory, six to nine weeks in advance thus eliminating the uncertainties related to price and delivery. The Almond future contract will also help in establishment of a transparent national pricing mechanism, integration of spot markets and reduction in price volatility thus maintaining the balance in the demand - supply situation throughout the year.
Almond is one of the largest traded dry fruits in India and world. India is world’s largest importer of in-shell almonds and largest consumer of fresh almonds in kernel form. In India, Non Pariel - Almond is the largest traded variety, it’s preferred for its bigger size, competitive price and taste. Delhi, Mumbai, Amritsar, Ahmedabad are leading consumption centers. September to February i.e .during festival season, Non Pariel is the largest traded and preferred variety, because of its bigger size, competitive price and taste.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

US: Pistachio growers could gain key self-regulation

US: Pistachio growers could gain key self-regulation California's pistachio producers could potentially boost research and promotion efforts and do more to combat disease, under Agriculture Department recommendations made public Tuesday.The proposed changes would expand how the San Joaquin Valley-based pistachio industry regulates itself. Growers from Arizona and New Mexico would be folded into an existing marketing order, a grower-run organization that would gain new powers under the proposal."We're going to reduce the risk of a food safety crisis," said Bob Klein, manager of the Fresno-based Administrative Committee for Pistachios. The Agriculture Department proposals largely track a wish list posted by leaders of California's $500 million-a-year pistachio industry. A two-day hearing conducted in Fresno last July laid the foundation for the new rules.The proposed changes now face a month-long public comment period and subsequent industry vote. The changes would revise rules for the Administrative Committee for Pistachios. The organization is one of many marketing orders governing specific crops throughout California.Agricultural marketing orders, and the related promotion orders, enable growers and handlers to assess fees, fund advertising and research and, in some cases, set crop standards.The federal pistachio marketing order began in 2004, though it currently has limited authority. The revisions would authorize a research program, potentially focusing on nutrition and other areas. Research projects would need separate approval."It gives us additional flexibility, if some huge problem erupts," Klein said.The pistachio marketing order also would be authorized to impose minimum quality standards and to combat aflatoxin, toxic fungus whose presence throws a scare into farmers and consumers alike. The new rules give the industry more flexibility to set tougher standards.Such contamination can wreak havoc on producers. Aflatoxin found in Iranian pistachios in the 1990s helped prompt European buyers to shift more to American pistachios. But earlier this year, traces of salmonella found in a Terra Bella pistachio processing plant sparked a nationwide recall of the nut.Agriculture Department officials said that expanding the marketing order to include New Mexico and Arizona would protect California producers as well by ensuring uniformly high safety standards."An aflatoxin incident in any one commercial producing area could adversely affect other commercial producing areas," the Agriculture Department stated.The Agriculture Department added that the revised rules would allow the pistachio marketing board to impose specific new quality standards "if circumstances warrant." The industry currently assesses fees and maintains a separate California Pistachio Research Board under state law.Though pistachios are grown in 32 California counties, the southern San Joaquin Valley dominates the field. Half of all the state's pistachios are grown in Kern County, while Madera, Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties account for most of the rest.All told, pistachio orchards span some 177,000 acres in California. Arizona is second in the nation, with 2,281 acres while New Mexico has only about 400 acres. Klein said he didn't expect any immediate assessment increases.Source:

Friday, May 01, 2009

India: Cashew export dips 22% in March

MarchThe cashew kernel exports in March declined by 22 per cent to 8,783 tonnes due to slackening demand from the US amid the global slowdown. Exports during March 2008 stood at 11,201 tonnes, according to Cashew Export Promotion Council (CEPC) data.Cashew exports are affected mainly on account of global economic crisis, as it does not fall under essential commodity, CEPC Secretary, Mr K Sasi Varma said.The demand has come down considerably from the US, which is battling recession since December 2007, he added.India exports about 45 per cent of the nut to the US. In terms of value also exports dipped by about 10 per cent to Rs 230.46 crore from Rs 255.72 crore in the same month last year.In terms of volume, exports for 2008-09 dipped by 5.43 per cent to 1.08 lakh tonnes compared with 1.14 lakh tonnes in the previous fiscal. In value terms it was up by 29 per cent at Rs 2,950.24 crore against Rs 2,288.90 crore a year ago.To promote the interests of cashew producers and boost consumption of the nut across the world, CEPC is sending a five-member delegation to the US to discuss the modalities for setting up a Global Cashew Alliance, Mr Varma said.The delegation will also attend the Annual Convention of Association of Food Industries (AFI) at Naples, Florida, from April 30 to May 2.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Salmonella found in N.Y. pistachio plant

According to the Associated Press, no Salmonella was found in the Commack, N.Y.-based Setton International Foods processing plant. All nine environmental swabs and 10 sample tests of the company’s food products came back with negative results. The investigation was conducted in tandem with an investigation into Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. in Calif., where federal food safety officials announced they found traces of Salmonella inside the plant. Setton Pistachio, now temporarily closed, had recalled more than 2 million lbs of pistachios the first week in April, and then expanded the recall of raw and roasted nuts on April 6. By April 10, 14 million lbs of nuts had been recalled, and it is likely that the company may need to recall up to 20 million lbs. So far, no pistachio-related illnesses have been reported.

Peanut industry faces more good news than bad

Apr 21, 2009 10:25 AM, By Ron SmithFarm Press Editorial Staff
The peanut industry can look forward to more good news than bad in the next few years, despite current over-supply, low prices and a salmonella contamination that affects the entire industry.
“We’ll come out of the salmonella issue stronger than ever,” said Howard Valentine, executive director of the Peanut Foundation.
Valentine spoke on current peanut issues at the Oklahoma Peanut Expo in Lone Wolf, Okla. He said industry changes to be initiated worldwide will restore public confidence in peanuts and peanut products.
Current lack of consumer confidence and the accompanying effect on markets come from what Valentine described as a “criminal offense” by the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), headquartered in Blakely, Ga., with another plant in Texas.
He said a Jan. 13, 2009, product recall followed reports of hundreds of people sickened by salmonella contaminated peanut products. So far, nine deaths have been attributed to the contamination.
Valentine said the recall included only 30,000 pounds of peanuts, which he describes as “a small amount. PCA sold to small companies.” The recall ultimately totaled 3,000 products, which is a lot, Valentine said.
The company allegedly shipped peanuts to various manufacturers in spite of records that showed 12 positive tests for salmonella. Eventually every product from the PCA plant was recalled. The plant was closed, as was one in Texas.
“PCA has done immeasurable damage to the industry,” Valentine said. “But we will work through the problems and come out stronger. I think we will do that. We will change consumer perceptions.”
He said the issue has unified the peanut industry. It also proved a catalyst for change. Valentine said the entire industry, from producers to manufacturers, are making changes to provide better safeguards.
A kill step recommendation is a key. Valentine said a combination of time and the right temperature is required to kill salmonella on peanuts. “Now, kill step regulations will be released to manufacturers worldwide,” he said. The Food and Drug Administration have approved regulations.
“We will continue to study and update good agricultural and manufacturing practices,” he said. A key will be improved sanitation, such as covering equipment to prevent contamination from bird droppings. “We expect big changes at the manufacturing level,” Valentine said.
A hazard analysis procedure also will be in place to assure contaminants are eliminated. “The industry will provide training for shellers and manufacturers,” he said.
A certification program also will help restore confidence in peanuts and peanut products. “It will be an international program,” Valentine said. “Jars and packages will be marked with certification labels.”
A promotion program will “minimize bad publicity” and to take a “proactive stance” for the industry.
Valentine said most peanut products are safe for consumption. “Jarred peanut butter is safe. It was not produced at PCA. And major supermarket chains have scan data so they know what’s on the (contaminant) list. They’ve pulled those products off the shelves.”
He said only one brand of crackers was included in the recall.
He also commented on the current peanut surplus and a hopeful outlook for peanut allergy treatment.
Increases in peanut exports, spurred by funds from USDA and FSA, have helped peanut markets. Since 2000, peanut exports have increased from 220,000 tons to 400,000 tons of farmer stock and few products have been recalled from export markets.
He said a “cure for peanut allergies” may be only two years away. An 18-month trial treatment program has shown that children with peanut allergy, after taking an oral immunization (extremely small amounts of peanuts), can eat up to 15 peanuts a day.
Within two years this oral immunotherapy will become “the method of treatment,” Valentine said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peanut supply pressures price

Apr 20, 2009 10:41 AM, By Ron SmithFarm Press Editorial Staff
U.S. peanut growers need to reduce acreage by 35 percent this year to bring production in line with demand. But that’s not likely to happen, says a Georgia peanut broker.
“Nationally, we expect an acreage reduction of about 22 percent,” said Richard Barnhill, president, Mazur and Hockman, Inc., Albany, Ga.
Barnhill, speaking via phone to the Oklahoma Peanut Expo in Lone Wolf, Okla., said the Southeast is more likely to cut acreage by 15 percent to 18 percent. “Growers do not have very good alternatives. Also, farmers will try to keep their rotations.”
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates a 400,000-acre reduction for peanuts this year, 1.1 million compared to 1.5 million in 2008.
NASS figures put Texas at 160,000 acres, down from 195,000 last year. Georgia growers should plant 500,000 acres, off from 690,000 last year. Alabama, at 170,000, will be off from 195,000 in 2008.
North Carolina, at 75,000, will be down from 98,000 acres; South Carolina, at 55,000, will be down from 71,000; Virginia, at 12,000, will cut acreage in half from last year’s 24,000; Oklahoma, with 15,000 acres anticipated, will be down from 19,000; Mississippi, a relative newcomer to peanut production, will be down to 20,000, off just 2,000 from last year; and New Mexico, at 7,000 acres, will be down 1,000 from 2008.
Tough decisions
“Growers will have some tough decisions at planting time,” Barnhill said. “Other commodity prices are off their peaks, too.”
He said if peanut acreage is less than 1 million, prices should hold. “If acreage tops 1 million, prices will weaken further.”
He said prices for the 2008 crop averaged from the mid-50-cent to the mid-60-cent range. “Now they are down into the low 40s. We have an oversupply of peanuts. A 1 million-ton carry-out from the 2008 crop is 600,000 more than last year.”
Production in 2008 was the biggest in four years, 2.5 million farmer stock tons. “Acreage was up and (moisture from) a hurricane in the Southeast came at the right time to produce big yields,” Barnhill said.
Demand is about 2 million farmer stock tons: 1.4 million for snacks, peanut butter, and other products; 100,000 for seed; 125,000 for oil; and 425,000 for export.
Supply outlook
Supply looks like this: 2.5 million farmer stock tons from the 2008 crop, a 410,000-ton carry-in, 100,000 tons imported. Total is just over 3 million tons.
“A 1 million-ton carry-out is why no contracts have been available like last year’s,” Barnhill said. “We have way too many peanuts and the salmonella scare is not helping. The 2.5 million-ton 2008 crop made the market weaker. Supply and demand always works.”
He said the impact of salmonella also remains a question. “The issue affects the whole industry.” Barnhill said January consumption numbers for peanut products were off. Peanut butter was down more than 8 percent, “the first time we’ve seen a significant downturn in peanut butter in eight years.”
And the worst is yet to come. “February numbers will be worse because they will show the whole market effect of salmonella. It could take up to two more months to calm the issue down — get it out of the media. The plants are closed; the products are off the market. We hope USDA announces that.”
Barnhill said the salmonella scare could reduce demand by 100,000 tons, about 5 percent of the reduced demand.
And that’s not the only issue facing peanut farmers as they make planting decisions. “China is getting more aggressive for exports in 2009. But a weak U.S. dollar could help U.S. producers compete.”
He said Southwest peanuts could have an advantage in export markets because of demand for high oleic and low aflatoxin peanut production. “We also see specific demand for Spanish and Virginia-type peanuts.”
Barnhill said the United States needs about 1.5 million tons of farmer stock peanuts in 2009. “A 500,000 to 600,000 ton carry-out is reasonable for a 2.6 million-ton supply. He said a 550,000 ton carry-out allows for crop yield problems.
Because of oversupply and the salmonella issue, “we don’t see much activity in the market,” Barnhill said.
Oklahoma, with just 15,000 acres planned for 2009, could maintain or increase plantings without significantly affecting the market, Barnhill said. “I’m not certain why acreage is shrinking so much (in Oklahoma).”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crisis in Vietnamese Cashew Industry

January 12, 2009

During the latter half of 2008, we published articles on two problems that had severely impacted the world cashew scenario: The increasing defaults by Vietnamese shippers that occurred during the spring and summer, and the disturbing reports of chlorophenol contamination that began surfacing around the same time. The cashew world has been on a virtual roller coaster ride since then, buffeted by the world recession and by industry practices that in some cases have backfired. Both of these articles can be accessed in the Newsroom section of the Cashew Concern website: .

Crisis in Vietnamese Cashew Industry

On June 20th, 2008, we published an article entitled "Unbridled Cashew Speculation - History Lesson 102" warning of the potential fallout from an overheated cashew market fueled by speculation and low price feeding frenzy. A recent article which appeared in VietnamNet Bridge describes the devastating effect that this "perfect storm" has had on the Vietnamese cashew industry. The complete article can be accessed at the following link:

Over the last decade, Vietnam quickly became the largest exporter of cashew kernels in the world, surpassing even India. Unfortunately, instead of healthy, managed growth, many Vietnamese cashew producers opted for the quick money to be had by offering cheaper prices than their global counterparts. Offers were made without a realistic assessment of production capacity. In 2008, as cashew prices soared, they did not deliver under the signed contracts, but sold to others as the price went up, with the intention of fulfilling the contracts later. However, material prices rose sharply, making it impossible to honor the contracts without devastating losses. To make matters worse, demand dropped and cashew prices fell dramatically.

The Vietnamese cashew industry is now in crisis and is scrambling to survive. Reports have begun to surface of Vietnamese cashew splits that have been adhered together with 502 glue in an attempt to disguise them as wholes, a practice that certainly cannot be tolerated.

Vietnamese cashew producers are now seeking help from the Vietnamese government in the form of loans and tax reductions, but it remains to be seen if the industry will be able to recover. Alarmingly, farmers in Vietnam are increasingly giving up on growing cashews in favor of more profitable crops, such as rubber and cocoa.

The speculation that has become rampant in the cashew industry has in the end benefited no one. Vietnam's cashew industry is struggling to survive, American cashew importers hit by the massive wave of defaults sustained significant losses at a time when the economy makes it difficult to absorb such a blow, and American roasters faced historically high prices during a brutal retail season.

Chlorophenol Update

On September 9th, we published an article about the detection of chlorophenol, mostly in cashews exported from India. In order to prevent contamination, guidelines have been established by the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India. The guidelines have been published by the African Cashew Alliance and can be accessed from their website. Alarmingly, however, there have been reports as recently as December 27th of containers being rejected because of chlorophenol contamination, and it is not at all clear that the source of the problem has been identified. An article published in the Indian Express states that the rejected cashews had been tested in India before shipment.

Every Link in the Global Food Chain is Important

Clearly more vigilance is needed. As we move further into the 21st century, better monitoring systems must be put into place, not only to ensure that suppliers follow good manufacturing practices, but also to understand the calibre of suppliers that we work with. Each link in the global food chain is important. We need to build strategic working partnerships between supplier, importer, roaster, retailer and consumer in order to ensure a better overall food product and foster the development of reliable working relationships that have a positive effect on food quality and on our business as a whole.

"An Ounce of Prevention or a Metric Ton of Cure" Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association Conference - January 17 - 20

David Rosenthal will give a presentation entitled "An Ounce of Prevention or a Metric Ton of Cure - It's Your Choice" at the General Session of the PTNPA Conference, held at Our Lucaya Resort in the Bahamas, on January 18th. The co-host of this session will be Merle Jacobs, president of the American Council for Food Safety and Quality.