Monday, March 22, 2010

Hazelnut prices reach a peak

ISTANBUL – Daily News with wiresSunday, March 21, 2010The scarcity of hazelnuts in the Turkish market reportedly raises prices. Weather conditions are expected to shape the price of hazelnuts for the upcoming period, say sector representatives. Also, the advent of high hazelnut prices brings forth new rival countries, according to the Hazelnut Promotion Group
Hazelnut prices in Turkey, which are determined by free market conditions according to the new strategy, have recently reached a record level for the year.
Giresun quality fat hazelnut, which was traded at 3.30 Turkish Liras per kilogram in September, is now going for 4.90 liras, Anatolia News Agency reported Friday. Levant quality hazelnuts, which have a lower level of fat than the Giresun quality hazelnuts but a higher level of fat than those grown in the other countries, rose from 3.20 liras to 4.70 liras. The Turkish Grain Board has not made purchases this year.
The prices have reportedly started to rise with the impact of the scarcity of hazelnuts in the market. The prices are expected to rise further with claims that the unexpected snow in March may result in a possible frost, reducing the yield.
The hazelnut yield is low this year, said Mehmet Cirav, president of the assembly at the Trabzon Commodity Exchange in the Black Sea region. Prices have reached the peak level of this season because producers have scarce product at hand these months, he said.
Noting that the producers with hazelnuts in stock do not want to give their products to the market while prices are rising, Cirav said: “In such a situation, the producers have greater expectations. And the prices increase.”
The snow in Trabzon this month has not affected the hazelnut supply at present, Cirav said. “But it may affect the prices in a speculative way. Hazelnuts may be damaged in case of agricultural frost during the night. The rise in current prices stems from the scarcity of the hazelnuts that producers have now.”
Weather impact
Özer Akbaşlı, chairman of the agricultural chamber in the Black Sea city of Giresun, also expressed the scarcity of hazelnuts in the market, adding that the Turkish Grain Board has also not put its hazelnuts on the market. “Therefore, the prices have risen. Farmers still have hazelnuts.”
Merchants are raising prices to obtain hazelnuts, according to Cirav. “We already expected this rise. In the upcoming days, the prices may rise further due to the negative weather conditions experienced in the east and west of the Black Sea. I do not want to make a prediction but I expect the prices to increase further to a certain degree.”
A recent front in the region has damaged hazelnut fields at an altitude of 500 and 750 meters, Akbaşlı said, also referring to snow. “The Meteorological Service has issued a warning about agricultural frost for Giresun, Ordu and Trabzon. A problem in these regions may significantly affect the yield for next year.”
Akbaşlı said it is not possible to predict at present how much a possible frost would affect hazelnut prices. However, he also expressed some other possible threats for hazelnut, such as wind and temperature till August.
“How frost will affect the Black Sea region and overall yield is important. According to last year’s hazelnut flower calculation, the expected amount was around 430,000. The expectation for this year is, on the other hand, around 630,000. If the yield falls below last year, prices may hit the ceiling. In this case, the hazelnuts of the Turkish Grain Board become very valuable. Through a worldwide demand, the board may compensate its losses of millions of dollars.”
Competition warms up globally
Meanwhile, the Hazelnut Promotion Group, or FTG, said on March 11 that the formation of high hazelnut prices despite the constant rise in hazelnut production lately brings forth new rival countries. The world’s hazelnut production, which was nearly 250,000 tons in 1960s, has surpassed 1 million tons today, as Turkey could not limit its plantation area, the group said.
“Hazelnut production began to decline in developed countries such as Italy and Spain between 1995 and 2007 period while it remained same in the United States. However, in Azerbaijan and Georgia, the production adopted an uptrend in that time,” read statement by FTG.
“Georgia’s hazelnut production, which stood at 800 tons in 1995, has reached 9,250 tons, a more than 11-fold increase within 12 years. In Azerbaijan, the situation is quite same as its hazelnut production increased to 17,500 tons from 1,500 tons between 1995 to 2007 period. Hazelnut production in Azerbaijan is expected to rise to 70,000 tons in a short while. Romania also continues planting hazelnuts as well as Armenia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. The increasing prices orient even some of the South American countries toward hazelnut plantation.”
According to the FTG, “The world’s hazelnut exports have increased nearly 2.8 percent over the last 10 years while Turkey’s production has grown by 3.6 percent on average. Turkey determines the world’s hazelnut prices with some little deviations.”
However, some of the countries that have begun hazelnut production recently increase their chances in foreign markets because their production costs are very low compared to Turkey, the group warned. “These countries have also high efficiency in their production. This situation will reduce Turkey’s competition potential in foreign markets as others become a strong competitor.”
© 2009 Hurriyet Daily News URL:

Weekly Cashews Update

MAR 20, 2010

The upward move in Cashew prices continued in Week 11 – in all grades now but significantly more in W320s. There was good demand from USA and some from Europe & other markets (two weeks it was Europe which was more active). This week, business has been done for W240 upto 3.05, W320 upto 2.80 and W450 upto 2.60 FOB. As we always see in a rising market, some processors sold at slightly higher levels to regular & off markets.

RCN prices in all origins have also moved up – India & Vietnam approx 1100, Benin around 950, IVC around 775 C&F. Shipments from Benin & IVC will start next week. In all origins, people have started talking of concerns – delays and possible shortages. Some of this may turn out to be true but it is too early in the season to say for sure. As we said earlier, for next few weeks, market will be driven by a lot of unconfirmed “news” but there is no alternative because reliable information is not available.

There is no change in fundamentals – supply seems comfortable (unless the worst rumours are true) & demand is steady (decline/low growth in some markets and steady to strong growth in others). Cashew usage is more supply led than other nuts – everything produced is consumed. Carryover is generally small (operational inventories at each stage) unless there is a big change in production from one year to the next (which we have not seen in a long time).

Geographical distribution of cashew usage has changed dramatically – over 50% of the world cashews are now consumed in Asia compared to less than 25% about 10 years ago. Problems of 2008 (world economy in general and cashew industry in particular) + inventory financing constraints + reduced risk appetite + uncertainty of demand trends (economic situation affecting mood of the consumer) have resulted in change in buying patterns of the roasters & retailers. All this has increased the proportion of spot & nearby buying and added to the volatility of market.

These developments will require all stakeholders to change their decision making process and selling / buying strategies. In uncertain (and consequently volatile) situations, the best form of defence seems to be participate at all levels to have a reasonable average rather than act when you have to (because that may not be the right time in the cycle to sell or buy).

Unless something dramatic happens with crops in more than one origin in the next few months when 1.50 million tons are to be traded, a wide trading range of 2.50-3.00 for W320 seems to have been established for 2010 (within this range, we will see more volatility for 6-8 weeks and then a narrower range in the third quarter).

Please tell me your views on market situation + comments / forecast of demand & market trend + any other info & news

Pankaj N. Sampat

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekly cashews update

MAR 13, 2010

Cashew prices continued to move up in Week 10 – especially for W320. There was not much volume traded but undertone was firm. Most of the limited business was with USA but there were some sales to Europe & other markets too. W320 were traded from 2.60 to 2.70 FOB. Prices for other grades also moved up a bit e.g. W240 around 3.00 and W450 around 2.50 FOB. Large processors are still not offering.

RCN prices moved up by 50-75 dollars i.e. Benin from 875 to 930-940 C&F, IVC from 720-730 to 775-780 C&F. Reports of slow arrivals in Benin and delays in resolving tax & movement issues in IVC seems to have caused this spike. Except for some shipments from Nigeria, physical movements from other WA origins have not started yet. Indian RCN prices moved up about 100 dollars a ton (not much impact for exporting processors but can have sentimental effect if they continue to remain high). So far, there is no definite indication of crop size in any origin but overall, everything seems to point to normal crops.

Crop news & perceptions – and rumours - will keep the market volatile for next few months when over 1.50 million tons of RCN (nearly 75% of the world production) is to be traded. This is not the best time to take long or large positions but changed market dynamics may force processors & buyers to do so during this volatile period.

Kernel offtake news is confusing. After strong growth in SH 2009, Asia is quiet now (this is normal for this time of the year). Europe reports lower usage whereas USA seems to be slightly better (inventories in both markets seem to be low as spot prices are reported to be high). Other markets have more or less steady growth.

Recent rally in kernel market seems to be due to (1) natural correction after big drop from 2.95 to 2.50 (2) covering by traders who have made sales for FH 2010 in last quarter of 2009 when prices were higher (3) some fresh business by roasters (4) caution buying due to high RCN prices. It is to be seen whether this is a temporary spurt and prices will drift lower again when RCN arrivals pick up OR whether prices will stabilize around current levels.

Volume traded has been small when market moved from 2.95 to 2.50 and also when it moved back from 2.50 to 2.70 FOB. Just as buyers have less cover for second half, processors also do not have any big sales for forwards. Who has to move first – processors or buyers – will determine price range in medium term. Meanwhile, steady buying for nearbys will provide a floor to the market.

Would appreciate your comments on market situation, views & forecast of demand + price trend and any other news + info

Regards,Pankaj N. Sampat

Friday, March 12, 2010


R.L. “Pete” Turner March 11, 2010



Walnut distribution continues to remain strong with February inshell equivalent shipments at 31,154 tons. My projection was 25,000 tons so my forecast loosing streak has now reach six straight months!

Inshell shipments to China/Hong Kong and Turkey continue at record levels, however, Shelled shipments to Korea, Japan, Germany and Spain are also at all time highs. In addition, domestic shipments are at record levels.

To date, total California Walnut shipments are 310,635 tons (inshell eqv.) compared to 203,982 tons last year; an increase of 52 percent. However, last years shipments are somewhat skewed because of the world financial meltdown, never the less, current shipments remains significant and will continue to drive and keep the market firm right up to new crop.

Many walnut packers have withdrew from the market and will remain off until they are assured their remaining inventories are significant to cover forward commitments. My guess is that some will come up short; however, others will most likely have extra material and will come back on the market as they get furtherer into their crack out.

Now, for what ever it is worth, my forward projections shows the industry will ship 456,405 tons (inshell eqv.) by September 1st. If so, this would give us a carry-over of 37,700 tons, 20,000 tons less than last year. Thus, even if we have another record crop, the industry should still be in a good inventory position going into the new crop year.

Although the qualities of the earlier walnuts were above average, the later material did not fair as well. Many packers are reporting that the Chandler quality really dropped off, especially on the material that was caught in the late October storm. Most of the other varieties seem to have missed most of the damage during this period.

California Walnut Shipment Recap

Month (February, 2010)
Year to Date
Year to Date
Difference (ytd)

Inshell Pounds (000)


Shelled Pounds (000)


Total (Inshell eqv. tons)


Inshell Jumbo Harleys have been trading on both sides of $1.45 with Inshell Chandlers around $1.60. Inshell Howards and Tulare’s are about $0.05 less than the Chandlers.

Chandlers Light Halves and Pieces are solid at $3.95 with most packers asking (and some getting) $4.00. Regular Light Halves and Pieces are trading on both sides of $3.85 and Combination Light Halves and Pieces are firm at $3.50 and above. Medium and Small material are either at or slightly above the Halves and Pieces prices.

It is my projection that the market will most likely mature around the current levels and because of the short inventory situation; I do not see any downward movement until new crop harvest.

So far, the overall weather has been good for the orchards and most of the industry leaders believe we will see another record year from the 2010 crop. However, we will not get much crop feedback until the Handlers issue their “subjective” estimate in late July.

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


Monday, March 08, 2010

Pistachios Reduces cancer risk

Berlin, Germany - Eating pistachios daily may reduce the risk of lung and other cancers, according to a US study cited by the German Lung Foundation.
The nuts are a rich source of gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E and, as such, an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances thought to protect cells from damage that can be caused by molecules known as free radicals. This protection could help prevent cancer from developing, the foundation said.
It pointed out, however, that pistachios had a high fat content and eating large quantities of them could cause weight gain.
The foundation cited a recent study conducted at Texas Woman's University - Houston Centre. Half of the study's participants were given 68 grams of pistachios daily for four weeks in addition to their normal diet. Afterwards, the level of gamma-tocopherol in their bodies was found to be significantly higher than that of the control group.
There is no need to fear a vitamin E overdose, the foundation noted. It said that vitamin E, in contrast to other fat-soluble vitamins, was not stored in the body's fatty tissue, but was quickly excreted by the liver and kidneys.

Weekly Cashews Update

MAR 6, 2010

There was good activity in the Cashew market in week 9 – mainly for W320 for which prices moved up a few cents to 2.60-2.65 FOB. Reasonable volume was sold for Mar-Jun shipments to European traders (and some to USA as well). Prices for other grades were unchanged i.e. W240 between 2.85-2.90 and W450 between 2.40-2.45 FOB. Vietnam has been selling few cents lower than India. Large processors in both origins are not offering.

Offers for WA RCN were little higher than last couple of weeks but no new business is being done. So far, it seems that crops in all origins will be normal to good. Physical movements will start next week and after that we may see some new trades.

It is to be seen whether the demand for kernels continues to remain strong in the coming weeks – if so, the prices will remain steady. Otherwise they will drift down to the 2.50 level. If prices dip below 2.50, we will see some more covering by traders and probably some new buying by the roasters. We do not see any reason for big decline in kernel prices unless RCN prices come down substantially during Mar/Apr.

As we have been saying for some time, the timing of the next big buying by roasters in Europe & USA needs to be watched closely – if it happens in Mar/Apr, prices will move up a bit. If it gets delayed to May/Jun, prices may drift a little lower from current levels.

Given the present fundamentals, it would be reasonable to expect a floor of 2.40 and a top of 2.80 for W320 for most of 2010. This is a wide range - we do not expect prices to remain at either end for too long (unless something dramatic happens) and it would probably be a good idea for both sellers and buyers to cover portions of their positions at all levels, rather than waiting for the top or the bottom.

For the next few weeks, we expect market to be volatile with periodic bursts of activity when prices will rise or dip depending on kernel buying/selling interest and RCN news & rumours.

Please let me know your views on market situation, demand and price trends and any other information / news.

Regards,Pankaj N. Sampat

Monday, March 01, 2010

weekly Cashew Update

FEB 27, 2010

There was some activity in the Cashew market in week 8. Prices were almost the same i.e. W240 between 2.85 and 2.90, W320 between 2.55 and 2.60 and W450 between 2.40 and 2.45 FOB. Off markets and Indian domestic market were quiet – there has been some decline in prices for brokens in the Indian market.

No fresh news on RCN front – Quotes for WA are around 875 C&F for Benin, 725 C&F for IVC, 675-700 C&F for Nigeria for April shipment. As reported earlier, business for Mar / FH Apr shipment was done at higher levels few weeks ago. Until physical movements start, both sellers & buyers not keen to commit additional quantities. For the time being, everything points to normal supplies in all origins.

On the kernel side, there seems to be reasonable (not very big) interest at current levels for Mar-May shipments. It is quite possible that buyers may drop their buying ideas if volume of offers increases but large processors in both origins are not offering and this is providing a floor to the market for the time being.

Some traders are offering SH 2010 deliveries at lower levels - although no trades are reported, this could induce some more selling interest at current levels for nearbys. Buyers are content to buy small volumes at each level as they do not see any reason to take large forward cover. This trend is likely to continue unless there is a big change in demand trend or a significant change in supply situation (actual or perceived).

We continue to feel that market is very delicately poised – it could move either way, depending on the timing of the next round of big buying (especially because very little business has been done so far for second half shipments). Reduced liquidity means more volatility – slight increase in selling or buying interest can tip the market.

If the processors decide to sell for SH before buying RCN, we could see prices come off from current levels (for kernels as well as RCN). On the other hand, if buyers need to buy for SH in the next 4-6 weeks, we will see market stabilising around current levels. This would keep RCN prices steady and could lead to higher kernel prices in the second half.

In the short term, market has a soft bias due to slow buying + impending new crops. In the medium term, there is potential for some increase in prices in the latter part of the year if demand grows with lower prices. External factors will continue to have increasing impact on demand and market trend.

Please let me know your comments on current situation, views & forecast of demand + market trend and any other news & info

Regards,Pankaj N. Sampat