Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Post Thanksgiving

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving and holiday weekend.

So the pattern continues, prices remain sideways and are at a good low level. Something to note, price on seed have gone up and we have been told that processors have brought around 80,000MT (about 40,000MT left) of Tanzanian seed, this says to me they are expecting some heavy bookings which haven’t materialized yet, it’s to be noted that China has a very late Lunar new year, and while they have started to buy, it has not be huge volume due to them having time to buy. Quality packers are trying to push out higher prices but no one is really biting, it is rather quiet on the buy side, with Europe having to deal with a very strong dollar. At these levels we would advise that you cover 25% of your needs and watch, if it’s the lowest then it’s a good price and if this is highest it’s not bad either. One word of caution, cashew nuts is still the best value tree nuts around, as the price the Almonds keep rising we will see a bigger retail move over, this is why splits and pieces are so firm on price because it’s become an alternative in mixes. So again we said last week, the market is soft and it’s a good time to book a bit and cover. Going forward we need to wary of China coming in heavy and prices moving up.

Very interesting market right now, the market in a way is finding itself and up till two weeks there was some nerves and a couple of smaller packers got the jitters and went out with lower offers but now they too have steadied the bows and have held steady  the big growers have stayed very firm most are not even offering. On a good note, rain has started to fall and they are expecting heavy storms, this should fill up the rivers which have been depleted of water, unfortunately this will have little to no impact at all on today’s crop or the soil, after 4 years of drought it’s going to need much more than a few days of rain, also early word on El Nino looks like it’s not going to hit the valleys and Modesto (will keep watch) We also await the upcoming shipment report but by the attitude of the growers and their reluctance to offer we think it’s going to be a good one. The Spanish farmers are taking advantage of these high prices as well and Europe while trying hard to resist have no choice but to cover. We advise to be hand to mouth in terms of buying and that’s probably the best way to trade at the moment.


We are being told some very interesting things but don’t jump into action just yet, while it’s a bumper crop some rumors are coming out that the quality isn’t great (lots of brown spots) and price is going to move up due to this. We will keep an eye on it.  

-H. Stimler

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Cashew Market.
As we said last week the market has softened and levels are very low. We feel that this is the floor and won’t go any lower, the price of Tanzanian RCN, is trading for $1,400 per metric ton and there isn’t  a lot of seed on the market so price could probably go higher. The other seed won’t be available till 1st QTR which means earliest around March. Most factories are not producing at all and those that are, are producing small quantities since they don’t want to sell at these low prices.

Traditionally when pricing hits this low level interest goes up and the price moves up along with that interest. We strongly advise to book both SPOT and 1st QTR needs now. Our pricing reflects these low levels and we have also come down on roasted products by $0.10. Please inquire for forward contracting pricing.

Almond Market
As per our extensive Almond report last week, we have seen some cheaper offers from small packers & traders, and have adjusted accordingly. Large packers haven’t budged on pricing and are still holding firm and the domestic market demand is very high. El Nino predictions have be upped and California got some rain last week but nothing significant at all. Although rain will affect the short term market it will only really make a proper impact 2 years down the line due to the tree damage.

Small snippet of info, we have in terms of the European market which comes from the trading desk at Barrow Lane and Ballard is that many traders have large contracts and went short, now that Spain is out they will have to start buying US product and that could impact pricing and push it higher, it’s something we will keep an eye on.

The pipeline has still not burst and that is why the pricing which we think should come down is still holding strong.

Market is somewhat sideways. The very large Iranian crop means very little buying from China and the strong harvest of 526 million means that price could fall. We will have a better idea when grading is done.

Please find enclosed pictures of our CEO’s recent trip to Vietnam.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Almond Shipment Report

We didn’t send out a report yesterday due to the Almond shipment report. After strong and in depth analysis we have some strong conclusions.

October shipments were released yesterday and the results are a gaggle of different signals:

-          Shipments were “only” 11% off last year’s record breaking numbers (204 million vs 228)
-          Commitments were “only” 13% below last year’s (458 vs 528)
-          Crop receipts 1.516 billion vs 1.385 last year (but harvest started earlier)
-          USA market up 8%, western Europe +2% (UK -9%, Germany +21%, Spain -18%, Italy +2%, Holland +42%, France -2%), China -44%, India +16%, Japan -26%, S Korea -14%, Turkey -20%, UAE -23%
Most Important
-          New sales for the month 276 million – This is the strongest sales month on record despite the historically highest prices ever.

Some important things to take note of. The Spanish Almond price drop is not related nor will it affect US crop pricing. Why did Spanish Almonds price drop?,  simply the European farmers are not “fat cats” and want to move product at this time. The crop has been OK and they are not in the same financial position as the California growers. They are not looking to increase yields to the same rate, rather happy with the current pricing and the desire to shift product and bring in some much needed cash. (typical Euros)

China has dropped significantly. Granted, but look at what has happened in India. Prime Minister Modi is intent on creating a new middle class, he has removed the red tape for importers (which was formally controlled by a few prominent families) this has led to a huge increase of almond imports 66%. Well either they have flooded the market or very cleverly have imported mostly unshelled almonds to forward sell, they can shell cheaply in India and can ship easier into the Chinese market (less import taxes). Even with the fear that these “rookie” importers are flooding the market, it will  have no real impact or adverse effect since they can’t ship it back stateside anyway. (Try getting past the FDA)

In terms of rain. Hardly any rain fell in October and so far in November and hardly any in the forecasts.
El Nino (wet winter) probabilities revised down to 55% from 65%.
The 2014 crop is now expected to be in between 1.90 to 1.96 billion down from the objective estimate of 2.1 billion hence growers/packers expect shipments to be down 10% on average every month in order to have a feasible carry-over for next year. I also feel that the growers have now given up hope of rain and are comfortable at these prices even without it (covering the cost of bringing in water). They are not really expecting it, this is evident in the recent signing to bring “drip irrigation” to the great state of California.

We think that we can expect prices to remain unchanged till the end of the year at least. For January onwards we are in the hands of mother nature (= rain or lack thereof)

So in conclusion:  The drop of 10% is not something to cause concern or to expect a price drop. We would need to see everything in the favor of the buyers for any real price drop, a tremendous amount of rain and a bumper forward crop. Neither of these seem on the horizon but am not GD (even if my mother disagrees :-) so impossible to predict the future but that’s our gut and conclusion based on what the reports & market research indicates.

Saying that some unsophisticated traders could read the report wrong and panic sell so some cheaper pricing will be available and we are seeing offers like that, but not from the actual large growers. They have gone out high and the domestic market have just accepted it and more, as evident by the 8% increase and the record breaking sales month. The demand for Almonds by the common man is strong (well done Almond Board)

I hope this is helpful, we shall be sending out a new price list tomorrow and can now offer the following Pistachios 18/20 R/S. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Dear Gentlemen,

Some good movement on the market this last week in terms of Cashews and Almonds.

The cashew market has definitely softened caused by some significant factors. The price of Tanzanian seed has moved down and the left over seed has also come down which has pushed cashew prices down. China isn’t purchasing any 320/240 so price has fallen, while 450’s is still holding firm because that item is still being purchased by China.

This market can move easily either way. If China comes in with heavy buying for the Luna new year that will push the prices up, that could also be the reason why they are not purchasing now in anticipation of the cheaper prices and hoping it will drop more and then they will come in heavy, this more than any factor will determine the price going forward. We have also seen a softening in the LP price due to the drop in the price to 240’s and 320’s so this has pushed down the LP price.

We would advise to book SPOT, you need to cover your QTR needs in case of very heavy buying which looks most likely.


This month’s shipping report is very important to determining where this market is going, it’s been the third week since offers have been flowing, and the market is finally breathing. Based on the report we can get a better picture but most people in the market seem very convinced that pricing isn’t going to come down. The thought process is that the almond farmers have made good money for the past few years and combined with the lack of rainfall are in no massive rush to move product. Small factor in terms of rainfall, the state of California signed an agreement with the Israeli government to implement drip irrigation which would negate the problem of drought, this week take a few years to get done but it shows the mindset of the state, that they are not “hoping’ for rainfall they are going to prosper even without it.

Small movement on the pecan market, the price discrepancy between Halves and Pieces and Mammoth halves is getting smaller, they are looking to close that gap because there are not so many pieces on the market because of the sophistication with the shelling. While it’s a good crop the farmers are intent on holding high prices and are happy to store product in order to achieve that.

While the Mexican farmers need funds so will try and undercut pricing to move product. The difference in this product is the lack on conformity between Mexican pecan growers, Texans and Georgia so harder to tell what the farmers will do overall.


We expected the price of walnuts to drop, it hasn’t yet due to the late crop and the pipeline issue, but its starting to move and there should be more availability in the next few weeks. We have taken a position on Walnuts LHP and combo Halves and pieces.

Pine Nuts.
We are offering great pricing on 650 ct

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The last few weeks have been stop and start for us due to the Jewish Holidays but it’s all done now and back to normal.

Some good changes, some bad, please find attached our reviewed price list and a brief market overview.

The market has softened in price, especially with product out of India. This nice drop in price is due to the slowdown of Indian export, according to the Indian CEPCI last year this time exports numbers were at 61,866, while this year its 55,471, when you have a 10% drop you know you have to do something and that’s exactly what has happened, this will of course have a knock on effect to Vietnam pricing which will have to adjust.

The lack of consumption by China which India didn’t take advantage of has left them in a position where they have to move product even while complaining about the high price of seed. It’s a good time to book, saying that the PIECES market is still strong and that due to the demand still being high with a short supply.

We have seen a tiny adjustment and offers are trickling out. Asia has been serviced with their requirements and now the focus will be squarely on the domestic market and growers are starting to ship. Rain is still a HUGE factor and while most growers live in fear of a continued drought, they do need to move inventory and can’t just do nothing as much they want to sit and stockpile. While I wouldn’t call this a market softening its more “we have wiggle room”. We are strongly advising to cover your QTR needs because if no rain should fall its highly likely that they will take themselves of the market again, but with a contract they will have to supply product no matter what.

Very interesting market, we are seeing cheaper offers for product from growers and we have adjusted our price accordingly. Some growers are offering cheaper in-shell product much the same as last year. Pecans must be seen as “the likeable but not needed for the party cousin in the nuts family” and while the Almonds farmers have confidence the Pecans guys don’t, hence the movement of price is more erratic and it can be a risky commodity to take large positions. The product is not as saturated or imbedded and pricing is not as stable. Now is the time to keep trading and moving in and out as per your needs. It would be risky to forward book at a price to far out because of this inherent mentality which we have seen in the past.

Still no real offers, and hearing even less. Rumors of a large amount of blanks are still just rumors but the growers coming in and out TWICE would lend credence that it could very well be the case. Iran’s Pistachio is not going to be a factor. We feel this product is going to go up in price over the course of the year. 

Thursday, October 02, 2014


Last week was a short week with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Happy New Year and I apologize for the lack of report and pricing. Even with the lack of the report there has been plenty of action and the lead up to the season has seen a flurry of business.

The upward price continues to climb and we believe it will do so till January. Demand is very high and it’s looking like a bumper season in terms of demand. India and Vietnam besides for all the bad decisions they have made over the course of this year know that this is the time to strike and are taking advantage of this demand by asking high prices and getting it. We don’t see much changing and with the return of heavy buying from China price could stay but most likely to continue to rise. It’s not going down, even Jan forward contract are high but will that hold remains to be seen. LP is a freak of nature, price is still very yet demand hasn’t abated.  

It’s been a mess of indecision, first growers offered then they pulled of the market and made us wait, made me feel like being at a high school prom all over again. Well it seems the wait may finally be over and now that they have finished the crop and know the numbers (which looks to be more at the 1,75BL number) they will reopen the books next week and we should be business as usual. Offers we are seeing right now are from traders that booked heavily last crop or sprang into action in the short window of offers and are riding the wave and making good money, in this case the risk was worth the reward. Next week will give us clarity and we should be able to offer out forward booking. Saying that don’t expect any huge price change, the drought continues to be a huge issue and very worrying.

Crop news isn’t great isn’t terrible, it’s been a decent crop with some amount of blanks, we know as well that there has been a very low carry over from last year’s crop. We have been pushed of week after week but we are told that next week finally pricing will be offered. Saying that one large grower did dip his toe into the water and offered out for one day at decent pricing then closed shop the day after. We feel that they are going to want to go out where last year’s crop left off and we thing think its going to fly as the market has been robust at the $5.20 - $5.40 level, saying that and we should see some decent pricing very soon and have proper knowledge.

New crop is irrelevant as its going to miss the season and the growers know this but they also know that we know it’s been an excellent crop year. So current spot pricing is high and they are holding firm because they want to protect old crop pricing before announcing new crop price. The also want to keep the price high using a futile attempt that all other nuts has gone up in pricing why can’t Pecans be like Almonds (because all nuts are not created equal) , it’s not going to happen. For now we advise to buy what is needed spot and cover needs. (same thing we have said last three months)

Another good crop but as per last report very little offers due the pipeline, since there is virtually no old crop on the market the growers have to get export crop out before they can service domestic properly but we hope we are going to see a nice price reduction.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Copy and Paste" week

c/o Henry Stimler

Compiling this week’s report could be as easy as copy and paste from last week’s report but being a consummate professional I will attempt to write pretty much the same thing as last time with a hope of coming of not too repetitive.

Saying that, it is very much the same. Prices have only continued to go up on certain items and the rest we do not have clarity to give any real updates. Here goes.

Prices continue to go up as we have seen for the last few weeks. The rise has been in $0.05 to $0.15 increments. This has to do with the high price of seed. Saying that we don’t feel this is going to turn into a runaway commodity. Till Jan pricing is expected to go up and then post that the price should settle down, much like last year. The cause for the price increase as per last week is that the Sheller’s can no longer mix cheap seed with current seed since all has been used. We should see post Jan the price of new seed come down which will bring pricing down.

Pieces Market is a completely different fish. As we have kept saying for weeks, now that the ability of the Sheller’s to get unbroken cashews means less and less pieces yet the demand for pieces is still very much there. So when you have an actual physical shortage expect prices to keep going up.

More of the same, as I said last week, the shipment report will not be a good indicator and even though it’s a tad lower than last year it didn’t make a spot of difference. Prices continue to be very high. The growers are beyond nervous, on the one hand with the reports of crop damage rumors of now upcoming needed rainfall for next year’s crop legitimize these high prices BUT on the other hand if the almond prices just continue to go up the blow back is going to be enormous, reminiscent of 20 years ago when Peanuts got to high and were replaced by Almonds (I was 16 at the time and it was traumatic). Large conglomerates will just abandon Almonds in its products and the damage would take years to rectify. Growers are sensitive to this and are trying to act in a responsible manner. This along with the tremendous volatility we are seeing makes it very hard to call but we can only speculate that post Jan we will see a price correction.

Prices are staying where they are. Market is high and dry, very little product floating around, the harvest will miss the season since its scheduled for November 15th meaning no deliveries till December and the bottleneck pipeline will take time to filter down but as we said prior post Jan we shall see a good price correction.

Not enough info a this current time.
Same, waiting on the market to stabilize 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

and the "season" begins

c/o Henry Stimler

1st week of September has been one of furious action along with furious inaction. Let me explain.

As per last week’s report the market has strengthened across the board and we see it in all current offers on cashews. We have seen another jump by around 10 cents on a product that has consistently been going up over the weeks, we think this price will now stick for a while. There is a number of factors contributing to this price increase. First and foremost is the high price of RCN out of Africa. This high price has caused many Vietnam producers desperate to move product have been selling at a loss, this in turn meant the banks starting pulling credit. Packers now needed to be profitable hence the significantly price increase.

Packers have also slowed down with purchasing RCN to force a price correction. Currently due to these 2 opposing factor there isn't an abundance of stock on the market and since its already the season they know that the demand coming now isn't so high so they can afford this ploy.

We feel that this price is going to stay around for now, and it looks unlikely that we will return to the day of old any time soon, a good indicator is the forward contract pricing we are seeing for Jan and they are rather high.  

Last week was a  slew of depressing doom and gloom emails from farmers,  this week they have been tempered with some rays of light, such as the initial thoughts of 30% damage now seems to be around 15%, this is just on the Non parrel varieties we still awaiting for more accurate reports on the California variety.

Saying that growers are currently off the market completely. This month’s shipment report wont reflect the market due to the fact it’s still old contracts, the real indicator will be the October shipment report which will show us if there is market resistance to these crazy prices. That shipment report will be a better barometer in terms of customer demand. If the shipment report is high then it will show the growers that demand is still very strong which in turn will legitimize these outrageous prices, if not we should expect to see a slight correction which will think/hope will happen.

We are hearing an abundance of rumors of a mammoth crop. Some packers are even predicting a new record and a bumper crop of 300 mill MT+ (combined US/Mexico). Based on this we should see a significant drop in pricing come Jan, and we just have to weather (get it) the storm for a bit longer and we shall see plenty of offers and plenty of movement after the holiday season. Caveat, till that comes about, current year crop can and looks like to continue to go up in the interim.  

One small thing to keep an eye on, though it’s unlikely, growers are saying that with the new process of shelling one is getting a complete nut and less and less pieces (which is good for the farmers) a situation similar to Cashews LP’s. We could see a lack of Pecan pieces and that could spike pricing in the long run.

The Walnut board meeting is today and we should know all we need to know hopefully by tomorrow and will update. Saying that we said last week that harvest looks good and price should take a larger drop from where it was trading as it has already dropped slightly.

Rumors are of a smaller crop this year than previous, we have no real feel back to predict anything, will keep you all in the loop 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


c/o Mr. Henry Stimler

Summer is in full force and as you expect things are relatively quiet or for use of a better term not as robust. Saying that, we have been active and will continue to be very active in the right spaces and patient with other products. This is though what we gleam from our surroundings and what we advise you our clients to be aware of.

Almond Market

The almond market is quiet, prices SPOT are kind of stable but the trading is thin, really not an abundance of crop or offers. As we advised, no one is in any rush to go and book massive contracts at these high prices of new crop, saying that they growers probably expected this summer lull and are not panicking yet and holding strong.

Harvest has started, or is about to start, in most of the counties. Where it already took place we are receiving reports the quality is disappointing. Normally the first orchards to be shaken are the most stressed (ie water issues) and farmers want to shake the kernels down the trees sooner than later. Every year we receive reports that the quality of the first shakes is not great so it’s really nothing to worry about. We need to wait a few more weeks before getting some solid feedback from the shellers and then we can properly advise.

On the demand side, increasingly more buyers are going on holiday. Particularly the European ones who are awaiting cheaper prices to come, they believe it will come down for the following reasons.

Slowing demand (or so they claim) at the current prices after a year at historically high levels
Good crop available soon from Spain (Spanish growers are reducing their asking prices weekly which will make them more attractive)
The biggest crop ever in California (according to the NASS objective estimates at 2.1 billion pounds, so they feel that should impact the price

Growers/Packers are holding on to their prices because of the draught and they bet the demand is going to stay strong, regardless the price. This is exactly the same situation as two weeks ago, both sides holding strong, let’s wait and see who breaks first, (I hope it’s the growers)

Cashew Market

We keep saying this is a sideways market, and we think we may see another small price correction. This is mainly because previous pricing was a little too high. Now that Kernel prices are coming down, the growers can make profit, so we should see a small market adjustment because Vietnam will want to move product especially now that they can make margins.  We feel in coming 1-2 months, production in Vietnam will remain same or reduce just a bit. Export will still be high in Aug, Sep because of old stocks and contracts.

The Chinese have finally made some moves, and  have been active for lower grades, and they have begun to buy for Mid-Autumn Festival. They are mostly buying DW and the lower grades like DW2, SW2, TPW, (the rubbish)

WW240: market not very active. Price is stable or down a bit 5 cents. Sellers do not want to sell lower unless they have to sell
WW320: supply seems to be more than demand (although there is always demand for WW320).
WW450: not much to offer.
DW: good quality DW, market isn’t going to go down because it is a product in demand by China
WS: price stable or up 5 cent/kg
LP: still very hot, a lot of inquiry. Price up 5-10 cents/kg, and keeps climbing.

Walnuts Market:

Very little movement and getting out of our positions because current price is high and new crop is going to bring it down and we know this already from what farmers are telling us, if you are sitting on big positions its rather risky, buy only spot right now and forward contract once new crop comes out.


Its summer and things are quiet, but if you are going to be unprepared come September and what will be a mad scramble in preparation for the  holiday season. You do not want to be caught with your pants down, scrambling to bring in stock that is now high and being stuck with nothing for your customers.
While its quiet now it’s not going to last, so do not be lulled into a slumber by the heat, be alert and cover your positions and keep a weathered eye on Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans etc because you don’t want to be panicking because you thought this calm will last, it will not.

Please find enclosed our revised spreadsheet, we have lowered pricing on a few items, we would also advise you to jump on the Bulgarian sunflower seeds and the Shine Skin AA Papitus. And if you have any dates left over, freeze them for next year, they like fine wine get better with age.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Market Update

It’s been two weeks since my last market report and for good reason, there is no point in a report unless we have some fresh news and market prognosis, which we do.

Cashew Market:

As always, let me start with cashews. Nothing really has budged since the last report (dealing with China and Vietnam etc) while it hasn’t really come down, no one is running to produce offers either. Indian packers still remain higher because they can and Vietnam is not seeing a great amount of demand. We are still experiencing record shipments but most savvy buyers have booked their forward contracts over the last few weeks (at our advice) through till December. Now is still a good time to forward book and very little downside risk at these current prices.

LPs: so finally we are getting offers on LPs but we are hesitant to spring into action since the shipments we have already booked keep getting delayed, so even though we finally are getting offers it’s still very shaky as to if these containers will finally leave port and steam towards us.  

Brazilian: Probably due to World Cup fever we have seen close to no offers from Brazil, but after the 7-1 trouncing and back to back loses to Germany & Netherlands (first time in 80 years) maybe now a tearful nation will brush themselves of and get back to work and we will be back in business but we doubt it. (side note: last time Brazil lost the World Cup at home in 1950 the country went into a deep depression) saying that new crop is coming in October and then will should be flush with offers.

Almond Market:

And now on to the main course. It’s been a funny last few weeks and we are deeply involved and intune speaking constantly trying to gleam every bit of information to advise you our clients on what we think is the best way to move forward. Right now it’s a game of minds, think The Wild Wild West who blinks first. Sellers are being incredibly bullish and even with a record crop think that they will prevail with going out with these high prices on new crop (compared to last year’s opening prices) Now the reason they believe is based on a boatload of impending doom of their situation. Farmers are sprouting the mantra of “high future water cost” another drought (even with the predicted El Nino) and a multitude of other reasons to fuel their/your/our fears. They can also just hold out and store crop even though at some point they will need the space so they will need to ship.

As buyers and traders we have a somewhat different perspective. Top of the list is the lack of European buying activity, Spain has had a better crop then last year (even though it could have been a bumper crop) and they can buy from there and save on time and shipping, we are not seeing forward bookings out of Europe (beauty of being a subsidiary of UK company Barrow Lane and Ballard Est 1887) With this mindset we believe that price will have to at some point adjust at a four % ratio up or down (sideways market) which we can take advantage of at that later point, but that’s not for a while.

Based on that our analysis its rather simple. Not much up/down risk to book smartly through till January and then hold. Seller confidence could start to wane and pricing can come down post Jan and no more shipping reports. (in light of new crop, we have adjusted our current crop pricing and bringing it lower as reflected in our price list) based on this analysis you are not exposing yourself to a tremendous amount of risk and that is always the best way to trade and buy.

Pecan Market:
As per my last report, based on the fact that there is very little product available right now in the market, but not us, we are sitting pretty with a good amount of stock, so we would like you to forward book the next two months at the current pricing (this week only) with the market getting stronger it is very prudent to book and hold at this price. Demand prior to the holidays is going to be huge and no new crop till post that will leave those who don’t make any moves in a very precarious situation and buying at a very high price. Right now the market is already going up and we are pretty confident it’s going to go up to $6;00 so don’t dally if it’s an item you need and use.

Its Ramadan and we have Medjool dates packed in 11lb boxes with 180 on a pallet. Chinese Pine nuts market is also moving on an upward scale while Brazil nuts have moved lower. We again have organic Almonds and organic Cashews and White Quinoa in stock. We also have 2011 Macadamia crop that we are looking to move, its vacumm packed and good quality and we entrertain bids in the high $4:00 range.

Kind regards
Henry Stimler

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Turkish Hazelnut

c/o AFI(Association of Food Industries)

Some members of the task force on this issue met June 4 with representatives from USDA and a commercial counselor at the Turkish embassy in Washington.

We met first with USDA. They had about eight people there, though five senior-level staff members did all of the talking. The consensus among our contingent was that USDA staff is correctly performing the inspections on hazelnuts. USDA staff said it’s important for us to understand there are two issues here. The first is the grade standard for hazelnuts. The second is the marketing order. The product requirements in a marketing order do not have to match the specifications of the grade standard, so they recommended that if we’re seeking to make any changes, we try to do it to what’s required in the marketing order. If we sought and were successful in getting a change to the grade standard, we would have to go through the process to make a change in the marketing order anyway.

Changes to a marketing order have to be suggested by the committee that runs the order. In this case, that’s the Oregon industry. The committee is due to have a meeting in August. The group that went to the meeting is going to recommend to the task force that AFI be given time at that meeting to explain the need for a change to the order. Of course, we have to find a way to incentivize the domestic industry to agree to suggest any changes.

Our meeting with the Turkish commercial counselor was very beneficial. It was clear that based on her conversations with others she thought USDA had made changes to the way it was conducting inspections. She and others thought the problem could be rectified simply by requesting USDA return to prior testing methods.

We are putting together a letter to be sent to the counselor and to the Turkish Hazelnut Group with recommendations/information from Jeff Abels(Foreign Trade Service) on how to address this issue at origin.

The task force is meeting via phone this afternoon to discuss next steps.

As for the request that the association put out a statement saying the USDA issue has created a force majeure situation, three law firms have told us they do not believe that is viable, though all have said it might be so for contracts specifically calling for Turkish hazelnuts. All three, though, have said they recommend such a statement be done by individual companies and not the association.

As everyone is aware, imports from Turkey for hazelnuts have been stopped by USDA, due to food safety issues and concerns.  We will keep you up to date on any changes.

- Thomas Kim

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Other" Nuts/Dried Fruits

So, I've been a bit lax in updating the blog, which I blame on the workload and lack of significant market update since the last one...(This is a lot better excuse than simple "laziness")

c/o Mr. Henry Stimler

Market has been strong but we all feel an upcoming lull in the market, which is to be expected since everyone is awaiting the June 30th objective report, so customers and growers are treading very carefully. Pick up what you need spot and await the numbers. Again post report we don’t think we will see any sort of a dip if anything it will just be at a stable plateau. Post report we feel the big growers will open strong and wait for market resistance or acceptance.

As far as almonds 27-30 that has moved a bit since not that much supply around currently.


We have felt strong movement in the recent days and weeks and the price is moving in an upward trend. The next crop is not till November 15th, and the demand for the holidays will be very high with not that much inventory meaning it will be a sellers market for old crop. Post crop we think that pricing will come down, but it seems that the freeze did some affect on crop numbers.


The price is what it is and we are seeing very little fluctuation in price and don’t think we will see much movement till new crop Sept/Oct


Yes pricing is high right now but for forward contracting post Sept we will see a price drop and we advice to start forward booking at that time for best possible pricing.


Pricing has gone through the roof but we are sitting pretty having purchased very well and have a good amount of stock, if you have contracts it’s going to be very tough to get product out now at anything resembling a normal price and we think this item is going to be retired by a lot of people and retailers till next year.

We are now coming into the summer months, which are traditionally a bit slower than Q1 and Q4.  Majority of customers are now gearing up and planning for Q3/Q4.  Everyone is watching and testing the markets carefully to decide best time to commit to contracting for this year's holiday season.  Please check back with us frequently for additional updates as they become available.

Thank you.
-Thomas Kim

Cashew Market Update

It has been awhile... and not so quiet, as it seems

It is a difficult time for the cashew processors.  If the prices do not increase, then the processors can face problems down the road

During the last few years, with technological innovations, there are so many new small factories coming into the market.  There is no need for large space or capital.  They can just process cashews(steam, shell, then sell the kernels to other processors).  Because of this, the demand for RCN is trending higher.  Vietnam also exports more and more every year.

The export from Vietnam is increasing, mainly based on the supply of seeds from Africa.  With lower cost of production, Vietnam is a bit ahead of India and have enjoyed better business atmosphere.  Recently, however, some factors have changed from India

- India have imported a lot of machines from Vietnam and have begun replicating and have begun to lower production costs to compete better with Vietname
- To stop cheap broken cashews(WS, LP or SP) from Vietnam to India, Indians have applied flat duty at $1 USD/lb.  Indian processors can enjoy selling broken cashews at higher price in domestic markets
- Indian market have always had a lot of demand.

Because of these factors, this year, Vietnam processors are finding it harder to pay for RCN prices from Africa.  The RCN prices have gone up tremendously and mainly shipped to India

A. African Seeds
  Because of big demand from India and Vietnam, the prices have continued to rise.  IVC seeds seem close to an end.  Buyers are in a hurry to purchase and ship.  A good quality 48lbs, which used to trade at 900 USD/mt, are now at 1050USD/mt CNF Vietnam.  Most buyers are now competing on Guinea Bissau RCN.

B. Vietnamese Seeds
   The crop has ended, and only few small crops from northern provinces.  There is high competition for seeds.  Prices on seeds, which were trading at around 23,000 VN$/kg are now up to 25,000 VN$/kg.  For this new price level, factories are covering mainly because they do not have enough seeds to process during Q3 and are hoping(betting) that prices of kernel goes up

C. Broken
   Most buyers believe that there are a lot of broken pieces during processing.  It may be the case in the past, but improvements in procedure have lowered available supply of broken kernels.  Before, we were seeing 20% broken from processing RCN, but some processors have gotten these numbers to 12%

D. Market, western
   It looks as though US and EU buyers have covered enough for nearby, when the pricing had bottomed out.  I do not expect pressure from buyers to make purchases in the near future, though they will move if the pricing is right.

With the current market conditions, I would advise that spot purchases for your immediate needs.  I would only consider contracting options if you need to cover a certain quantity by Q4, and only at a "deal".

Thank You.

-Thomas Kim


Monday, May 12, 2014

Cashew Market Update

1- Vietnam crop: the crop continue in other center provinces (a bit further North), but it is small crop and price is getting higher than before. Dry raw seed traded around 24,000-25,000 VN$ per kg for 30% outturn (Vietnam calculate %). Comparing to African seeds, price is still more attractive than African seeds because transportation cost in Vietnam has gone up very much. But the disadvantage is that you have to pay money up front, full amount, while with African seeds you can only deposit 10% to open L/C and only pay after
45-60 days when cargo arrive.

I think lack of finance is the main reason for raw seed price is reasonable in Vietnam.

But in general, price is up 25-50 USD per tons if we compared with same quality as before.

2- African crop: 
- Ivory Coast: it is raining and quality is getting down. I think up to now the IVC government has been successful keeping the minimum price. With strict control like cancel export license and cancel local buying license, they remain same minimum buying price although out turn is less. There has been few meeting between IVC cashew board and exporters. Exporters try to convince the IVC government that out turn is now less (46 lbs) compared to before around 49 lbs so minimum price should revise. But IVC does not agree, they still remain same minimum price. Indian and Vietnam have been waiting and hoping for price to come down, but they cannot wait for too long, so India and Vietnam start to pay the price, raw seed begin to move up. This year, raw seed is moving more to India than to Vietnam.
Shipment from IVC is quite slow because of congestion. Formality is also very slow. Exporters complain that everything is slowdown in IVC, very difficult to have containers, very difficult to have space on the vessel, trucks have to wait for so long to have space in warehouse....
In general they say crop is okay, but if they cannot ship out fast, quality can be down as the rain is coming.

- Other origin: price also follow IVC price, so it is going up too around 30-40 USD per tons.  Most my medium raw seeds traders are complaining that business is getting more and more difficult because big group of companies entering the market and spoil the market, pushing them to take position.

3- Processing: monsoon season is coming, so sometimes there is small rain, moisture will become higher from small/medium factories if they face the rain. So during June, when there is more rain, I think quality will be down from small/medium packers. Processing is getting better in Vietnam because after harvest, workers will slowly returning to work.

4- Domestic market: Performance of LP is having problems. 1.75-1.78/lb fob level. Demand for LP is quite good.  I think in domestic market, price will be even up more by end of May, because many exporters have over sold, so by end of June they will need to cover to ship. Why exporters have over sold??? I think the main reason is that they always sell based on current domestic market level. But when buyers feel that price has reached the bottom level and begin to book many, price will be up immediately. Exporters (traders) do not know about this, so will get stuck. Only processors who have raw seeds in the warehouse can avoid this problem.
Recently there are so many exporters who do not process (exporters with just packing centers, who does not have a chimney in their factories), they only buy from small processors, do some re-grading and pack in their brand. There are too many of those, so competition is very tough.

5- Western market: by end of April and early May. Market is more active as western buyers are buying. During these days, Western market continue to buy more May and June shipments, so price is moving up.

At current market of raw seeds imported from Africa, packers will need to sell higher than this level to make money.

It seems like market is on the up side, especially LP from a high quality packer.  If you have needs for forward contracting, please contact us and let us know how we can help.

-Thomas Kim

Thursday, May 01, 2014

2014 USDA Subjective Almond Crop Estimate

USDA has released 2014 almond crop estimate, subjective.

The subjective forecast for the 2014 California almond production is 1.95 billion pounds. This is 2.5 percent below last year's production of 2.00 billion pounds. Yield is expected to average 2,270 pounds per acre, down 4.6 percent from the 2013 yield of 2,380 pounds per acre.  Forecasted bearing acreage for 2014 is 860 thousand. The subjective production forecast is based on a telephone survey conducted from April 15 to April 29 from a sample of almond growers. After the warmest winter on record for California, the
almond bloom began in early February. The 2014 bloom was one of the earliest almond blooms in memory.
Orchards required irrigation in the winter months due to the lack of precipitation, but rain early in the season offered some temporary relief. Pest and disease pressure has been lower than last year. Overall, the 2014 crop is developing faster than last year and harvest is expected to start early. Water is a concern for many growers this year.

The short version... it's just what we expected.  While the prices of almonds will not "shoot for the moon", we're also not going to see it crash(as buyers were hoping).  The market will remain stable and seller/buyer will be paying close attention as we get closer.  Look to the objective estimate from USDA(which is more accurate) on June 30,2014 12:00PM

-Thomas Kim

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cashew Update

OK... so below is the latest update from

Vietnam crop: The major crop in Binh Phuoc has ended. Now crop is coming from other areas, but it is not big crop. Price of raw seed is stable. In some area, price is cheaper but mainly because of quality is poorer being end of crop (quality is always worse by end of the crop).

West African crop: There is also not much changing on the price of seeds. Price remain stable, IVC cashews 48 lbs still being offered around 900-920 usd/mt cnf Vietnam. Basing on the current low level of WW240 and WW320, Vietnamese buyers are not aggressive buying from West Africa.

Outturn is getting lower, so most sellers are offering at lower level for 46-47 lbs outturn instead of 48 lbs outturn.
IVC cashews: remain 900-920 USD/mt cnf for 48 lbs outturn.
Ghana: not much offer because IVC government stop border trading. Price idea for 47 lbs at 950 usd/mt cnf
Benin: 1050 usd/mt cnf for 47 lbs outturn
Nigeria: 770 usd/mt cnf for 47 lbs outturn.
Guinea Bissau offered around 1,100-1,150 usd/mt cnf for 52 lbs, but nut count is small around 220 nuts/kg

In general, Vietnam will need to buy a lot of more from Africa, but at this price level, buyers feel it is not attractive price. They need cheaper price to buy more raw seeds. IVC government is still trying to control price, up to now they seem to be successful, so seed price is not cheap (compared to kernel price WW320 around 3.05/lb fob level).

Processing: still good and will be better in May because more and more workers return to work as the harvest is going to be finished.

Vietnam domestic market:
There are still few rains, the air and the land will get higher moisture. Small/medium packers do not have system to control moisture, so quality is down now. From small/medium packers, cashew kernel will tend to be softer (moisture is higher) and color is a bit more yellowish (not as white as before).
WW240 price is down because supply is better than demand
WW320 price is stable or just down a little bit.
WW450 price is down a bit
WS price stable
LP price is up very much because demand is good.
SP: not much demand because of foreign admixture in SP from Vietnam.

China market: In March, China has bought good volume from Vietnam. They bought WW320 at around 7.3 usd-7.40 usd/kg. But later, Vietnam keep decreasing price of WW320. So people who covered WW320 before at high price are now selling WW320 at a loss of around 15-25 cent/kg. Basically they reduce buying WW320 from Vietnam. So Vietnam will have more pressure to sell WW320 to Western market. The weather is getting warmer, so consumption of nuts in China will be less. They will consume more during Autumn Festival in Aug/Sep

Most Chinese buyers complain that recently, the new government in China is trying to control corruption and government spending. It also affects cashew consumption.

Western market: As price is bit down, so we see business traded here and there. Sales seem to improve in most of the market: USA, Europe, Middle East….There is more buying interest in May, June
Price by grades:
WW240: price keep coming down. This year Cambodia seeds are bigger, so supply of WW240 is okay.
WW320: I do not see much down trend on WW320 because at this level, quite some small packer are working under profit, because they covered raw seed before at high price.
WW450: not much demand. I think price is down trend a bit
LP price is up, demand is quite good. I think it will continue to be up trend. Low price contracts might be getting delay….

Basing on raw seeds price in Vietnam (many had bought before at high price), basing on stable price of seed in Africa, I do not see much down trend of price of kernels. Sellers will resist selling low unless they have to. Supply of kernel for export will be more in May.

So during the next coming weeks there will be questions:
Will Western buyers buy more at this price??? If they buy more, price will be come stable or slightly up and down. I see quite many inquiry on WW320, seems that demand for WW320 is okay.
If Western buyers do not need much in May (demand not so good for WW240 and WW450 for May shipment), then Vietnamese shippers will have to sell at lower level. Quite some will be under profit.
Will West African raw seed be cheaper??? If it is cheaper, then Vietnam can sell kernels lower.

As for price of LP, since demand is good, so I think price will be up. Our inspectors are rejecting more quality of LP, because price is more expensive, so small/medium packers tend to mix more of lower grades into LP. We are putting more care and inspectors to control quality as the monsoon is coming, quality is down.

Please note that I see more buying interest for WW320 for May shipment. Current price level seems to be attractive.

It is certainly in your best interest to start looking for your bookings for Q3 and Q4.  After the "dust" settles, I do not believe that we will see these price levels for awhile.

-Thomas Kim

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Update : Turkish Apricots

There's been more information regarding the Turkish apricot market.

The temperatures measured throughout Turkey during end of March has ranged from -6.9 C to 7.8C.

According to evaluation by Malatya Provincial Directorate of Agriculture on every region, the frost average is between 90% - 95%.  Across the province, the effect on fruit trees are considered "disaster".

Most exporters are expecting 2014 current crop to be 10,000 MT maximum.  With carryover from 2013, it will be less than 30,000 to 40,000 MT.  Normal crop size would expected to be at 100,000 MT.

The prices have skyrocketed within the last few weeks.  While we do remain hopeful, we are encouraging our heavy volume buyers to begin taking positions for Q3 and Q4 needs.  The main issue will not be pricing, but availability of the crop, as most of the current harvest is consumed in Turkish domestic market

Please contact us for contracting options and availability.

Thank you.

-T. Kim

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Turkish Apricots

The term "when it rains.... it pours" comes to mind.  Drought in CA, Flooding in Bolivia, and now...

Frost in Turkey
c/o Exporter in Turkey

The apricot market was very stable since the beginning of 2013/2014 season due to regular demand from the buyers, strong US$ currency against TL and stable raw material prices depending on the easy availability of apricots. The export prices of apricots were staying at the bottom levels where we have recommended all our buyers to cover up their needs at the subject attractive price levels.

Unfortunately, the situation of the apricot market changed completely few weekend ago due to very effective frost damage on new crop apricots. The night temperatures reported at Malatya were -5 C for Saturday night and -8 C for Sunday night. According to the first reports coming from the growing areas that more than 60%-70% of the new crop apricots are damaged over the weekend. We are expecting the damage to be even higher than 60%-70% levels...

The situation at the growing area should be investigated deeply after the fruit meets with sun during the day time. The damage level will be known better after checking every growing area individually. It is hard to estimate the new crop quantity under current conditions but having a crop with 50.000 m/tons of apricots should be considered an optimistic look to the market.

The carry over quantity from current crop to the new season will be known by May – June 2014. It is impossible to comment on the possible carry over quantity as it is going to be determined by the market’s situation in the coming weeks.

On the other hand, US$ currency decreased substantially against Turkish Lira on April 1, depending on the results of March elections in Turkey. The existing government increased it’s votes in comparison to the last elections therefore Turkish Lira gained value against all foreign currencies. Weaker US$ currency against TL is not a good news for the export prices of all dried fruits, therefore apricot market also effected in a negative way by the new currency levels...

We are not able to offer apricots to our customers under current conditions. We would like to watch the developments in the market during this week, investigate the real damage level on new crop apricots, check the raw material prices and currency to be able to calculate the best possible prices for our buyers. Obviously, the prices of dried apricots will increase dramatically in the coming days and the market will find a new base at higher levels for sure...

We will watch the market and keep you posted about the developments immediately. If you have any concrete inquiry for apricots, please share with us and we will do our best to prepare our special offers asap.

Basically, the only reliable information we currently have is "Uh Oh!!...".  The growers are trying to assess the damages, and until the dust settles, pricing/availability is up in the air.  We are awaiting for more reliable information before we can begin offering recommendations on contracting/purchasing

As always, please contact us if you have any questions.

-Thomas Kim

Monday, March 24, 2014


Market seems difficult and confused.  If you're not interested in the reading material, just scroll down to the bottom for a summary

1- Vietnam crop:
Because of the cold weather during the flowering, nut count is smaller and outturn is low.  But due to many new processors and likely very little stocks carry over from last crop so demand of seed is huge, there is too much competition to buy seeds. Seed price indeed have not come down, and even go up a bit.

Kernel seems to move in different directions, there are many offers of kernels from Vietnam, so kernels price is not going up. Situation became very difficult time for the processor because there is no parity.

Vietnam crop is now less important to processors like they used to be. We import more and more. Last few days, our staffs went to Cambodia from what they see, they feel and Cambodia crop is getting bigger and bigger. I do not really know how big Cambodia crop is but they export more and more to Vietnam.

Price of seed today in Vietnam is around 22,300-23,000 VN$ with low outturn.

2- West African crop:
IVC crop: IVC government is still controlling to price paid to farmers, and they do not allow export at low price. I heard they had cancelled the export license of some exporters because they were selling low price.  Because of this, IVC raw seed price remain stable and even up a bit.  At one time, IVC 48 lbs dropped to 950 USD/mt cnf Vietnam but are now up 10-20 USD per tons (traded 970-980 usd/mt cnf Vietnam for 48 lbs).  IVC raw cashew nut is the key important factor, as crop is so big (around 500,000 MT), so IVC price will affect price of Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau…..

One of the reason IVC price is stable is because of Vietnam. We are hearing that Indian crop is good, so Indian processors find price of IVC as too high, and they’re not buying much.  But Vietnamese processors are buying a lot from IVC.  Some Vietnamese processors like to gamble.  They will accept high price, but when the cashews arrive and if the market is down, they will try to find discrepancies in L/C and try to reject the cashews.  It happens all the time when market is down.(We don’t deal with these guys though)

It is reported that this year quality from IVC is good and big nut count (last year nut count of IVC was also big that's why supply of WW240 was good).  I do not hear any bad news about crop in other countries like Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. Guinea Bissau crop will only start later.

If everywhere crop is good, I do not know how IVC government can hold the price of seeds.

3- Processing in Vietnam:
Still good… Very good.  That's why there are a lot of offers of kernels.

4- Vietnam domestic market of kernels. 
Market seems to be stable, not coming down like last few weeks. I think because price is reasonable so demand is good, that's why price stable.

5- China market:
After the lunar New Year, demand seems to be good.  But they are beginning to follow Western buyers, which is to pay less price for WW320 because of good supply from Vietnam. They still buy a lot of LBW and DW because lower price. China does not buy much WW240.  Normally China will reduce buying in April, May when the weather getting warmer.  Chinese buyers are complaining that the currency(RMB) is dropping fast against USD, so price become more expensive. This can affect their purchase from Vietnam.
I will be going to China in Mid-April to visit some of our buyers, then I will know more about China market and demand.

6- Western market:
Because of so many offers from Vietnam, buyers seem not in a hurry to buy and only buy if they feel price is cheap. It looks like offer will be more in April, May, June, July.  If packers suppose selling at same level as today, can Western buyers absorb the increase in quantity from Vietnam??? Or they need a lower price to push demand???

So in summary, this is a difficult time for processors, paying high price for seeds and selling kernels at low price. April, May, June might be more difficult for sellers because they need to sell bigger quantity then same period of last year. If price fall, they may face big problems.

In the past, most companies lost money mainly because they purchased raw seed at high price, like:

Fatimex: bankruptcy, mainly because they purchased seed at high price and bad management
Lafooco: down mainly because they purchased and a bit high processing cost
Nitagrex: down because they purchased seed at high price although they enjoy low processing cost
Pygemaco (Pycasco): down because they purchased seed at high price although they enjoy low processing cost. Their management wasn’t very bad.
Nam Long: same problem, purchased seeds at high price.

So for most packers in Vietnam, the main problem is purchasing seed at high price. Other problem is management and high banking interest (but if high banking interest will affect all packers, not just few)

It does not mean that when you purchase seed at high price, the international buyers need to pay you high price for kernels. This is wrong thinking.

So we will see if:

a) buyers will pay higher price for kennels to have parity for processors
b) Raw seed price has to come down for parity
c) processors is making wrong decision to pay high price of seeds and will suffer.

In the interest of saving time, I'll just sum it up this way
Packers/Sellers are asking for higher pricing, because of high prices of RCN.  Buyers are very hesitant to buy at current level, because.... heck, it's a down market!!

It's a dangerous game "chicken" that they're playing... seeing who'll budge first.  The best advice anyone can give right now is "Keep your head down and your eyes/ears open".  When the market bottoms out/hits the floor, you can give me a call(or if you need spot shipments right now)

- Thomas Kim

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

February Walnut Shipment Report

Walnut Shipment Report

YEAR TO DATE SHIPMENTS- Shipments through February 28th of 2014 were -0 .5% overall compared to last year.  Total Shipments are 333,020 In-shell equivalent tons.

EXPORT SHIPMENTS- Shipments are up compared to last year. Current year to date export shipments are 230,850 In-shell tons; compared to last year at  229,845 In-shell tons,  representing -0.5%.

DOMESTIC SHIPMENTS- Shipments are down compared to last year at the same time. Current year to date domestic shipments are 102,163 tons; compared to last year at 104,624 In-shell tons, representing - 2.35%.
     U.S. – The domestic market was slightly down for the month of February on kernels and In-shell. Canada was slightly up on their kernel shipments.
     Europe- Once again had strong shipments in both In-shell and shelled categories. Italy and Spain both had terrific shipment numbers. .
     Middle East/Africa – up in both categories for kernels and In-shell and up for the month.
     Asia/Pacific   - Was down on In-shell and up on Kernels. China shipped more kernels than they did last February. Year to date volume for China/Hong Kong is down.

CROP RECEIPTS- Receipts are 488,844 In-shell tons as of February 28th, 2014, which should represent the entire crop.  The CASS Crop Estimate is at 495,000 tons. 

SOLD POSITION- Most industry experts believe the crop is 90-95% sold  or committed.

Demand has been steady from many markets around the world.  China is not as active as last month as they have shifted focus to Chilean walnuts.  

Prices look to remain very firm until new crop due to a lack of inventory in California. Most of the remaining inventory is pallet amounts with limited full container/truckloads of single items remaining. It appears packers are extremely comfortable with their sold position. We do not expect to see any changes in pricing for the remaining inventory of this crop. If prices do move we believe they may increase slightly as we approach the summer months.

WATER-  California has had two excellent storms over the past couple weeks. It has provided much needed water; however, we are still need of much more. It has given temporary relief to farmers and allowed them to shut of their pumps and not irrigate. California is still in a drought situation, one thing to keep in mind is the rain in the recent storms have been warm and provided very little snow pack. Snow pack is essential for summer water needs.

We will continue to keep you updated on new crop as the season progresses.  

Yes.. we've had two storms.... "but!..."  There's always a "but"... isn't there?

We'll try to keep everyone updated.

-Thomas Kim

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

February Almond Position Report

The Almond Board of California has announced the February Almond Position Report with shipments of  +149.3 million pounds compared to last year +160.0   million pounds for a decrease of -6.7%.

February Shipments:
-          Domestic shipments were +26.1%    +54.47 million lbs
-          Export shipments were -18.8%    +94.87 million lbs
-          Overall -6.7%     +149.3 million lbs

YEAR TO DATE SHIPMENTS:  +1.219 billion pounds compared to 1.176  billion pounds last year for a +3.66% year to date.

CROP RECEIPTS: The crop receipts are now at +1.99 billion pounds.

BLOOM: The bloom has basically finished.  Nonpareil had good weather, however, it did endure a long bloom and the initial report are the NP bloom was spotty.  Early pollinators had excellent weather overall.  The late pollinators did endure some rain at the tail end of the bloom which will be a concern for the Butte/Padre, as they were at 50% bloom when the rains occurred in some areas of the valley.

RAIN:  California has received a few nice periods of rain showers during the past 15 days to bring our annual rain fall up to approximately 45% of its normal levels for year to date in the Sacramento area.  We are at 36% or our normal full season rainfall totals.  We are still in a drought situation which will become a bigger issue in May/June/July when growers are required to make heavy irrigations.

MARCH SHIPMENTS: We expect the March shipments to be similar to slightly down compared to last year.

SPANISH BLOOM:  Spain has had an outstanding bloom condition and the trees are set to make a potential record crop of 60-70,000 tons.  As you will recall, this past year Spain had one of its worst crops in recent years only achieving 27,000 tons.  Thus the trees in Spain were well rested and are ready to produce this year.

PRICES: Almond prices have decrease approximately 10 cents per lbs on selected items during the past 4 weeks, as California started to receive a few rain showers to assist with its drought situation.

This is a good news for the buyers... at least until another "crisis" occurs to drive the market pricing through the roof!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Almond Gold Rush

Source : BBC News
Author : Peter Bowes
February 11, 2014

It has been likened to a modern-day gold rush. The growth in the popularity of nuts as a healthy snack has seen a boom in business for California's almond farmers. Eighty-two per cent of the world's almonds come from America's Golden State, where it is the leading agricultural export.

"Nut crops and almonds particularly have risen in value as the world has realized the nutritional value of eating almonds and how good they are for our bodies," explains David Phippen, a life-long almond grower in the prime agricultural area of central California.

Phippen's solar-powered farm is a partnership between five families. It is one of the first in the world to use robots, designed using NASA technology, to sort good almonds from bad.

It is a highly mechanized process with sophisticated irrigation systems in the orchards but, above all, almond production is dependent on the climate.

The region - which is about a 90-minute drive from Silicon Valley - is one of the few places in the world where almond trees will grow.

It has the perfect combination of a cold - but not too cold - winter, which allows the trees to lie dormant, followed by a mild spring that encourages them to wake up and bloom.

Crucially, the trees need about 500-700 hours of dormancy followed by a frost-free period when they burst into life - usually around Valentine's Day.

Farmers like Phippen have responded to the global surge in business - especially from the UK and emerging markets like China and India - by expanding their orchards.

"The value of each kernel has gone up dramatically and growers are looking for the best return on their investment so they're still planting almond trees at an alarming rate," he says. "If you decided to plant an orchard right now, you would wait two years for available root stock to actually plant."

"In the early- to mid-90s, nuts in general and almonds in particular were felt to be unhealthy because they had so much fat," says John Talbot, vice-president of global market development for the Almond Board of California.

But he says research has shown that the fat content of almonds is a positive attribute.

"It's the good fat, it's not the bad fat," he says, adding that a greater understanding of the positive role of monounsaturated fats has changed people's perceptions.

Good fats, such as monounsaturated fat, have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the body, decreasing the risk of heart disease and improving blood cholesterol. Harmful fats include saturated fats which come mainly from animal sources of food. They can be found in processed foods and have been linked to raised cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.

In recent years the almond industry has seized on the health-promoting qualities of the nut. Marketing campaigns have resulted in a steady but significant growth in business.

A print and online advertising campaign in the UK in 2012 positioned almonds as the "on-the-go essential snack". A Young at Heart campaign in China focused on the idea of "perpetually feeling good", while mothers in India were fed the message that almonds would help their children succeed in whatever they do. In the US, with slogans like The Crunch That Keeps You In The Game, the Almond Board of California has promoted the "crunch power" of the nut to physically active consumers.

Independent research appears to support the broad claim that almonds are a healthy food choice.

Researcher and registered dietitian Dr Michelle Wien has been studying the health benefits of almonds for over a decade. In one study, at the City of Hope National Medical Centre in Duarte, California, Wien discovered that when the nuts were incorporated into a weight-loss programme, dieters lost a greater percentage of their body-weight than those who did not eat almonds.

"They have a good amount of fibre, they are the highest protein-containing tree nut and my patients reported that they enjoyed the crunch and the chewing of the mastication process when they were consuming the almonds," explains Wien.

She says almonds have the effect of making people satisfied and less hungry for longer. It is a finding that has been observed by other researchers.

In another study, Dr Wien set out to evaluate the effects of almonds in people with pre-diabetes. She found that after 16 weeks, individuals who were consuming approximately 43-57g (1.5-2oz) of the nuts per day, had improvements in their bad cholesterol levels.

Wien, who works with diabetes patients, says almonds have qualities that make them a valuable ingredient in a snack.

"Since almonds are high in fat, they will reduce what's called the glycemic index of the snack," she explains.

"If you pair something with a low glycemic index, which would be the almond, with the higher glycemic index food, which would be the fresh fruit or a cracker, then you're going to minimise the rise in blood sugar after the snack."

Buying almonds in bulk makes sense financially. But consumers should be aware that gorging on the nuts is not to be advised. A single 28g (1oz) serving - about 23 whole almonds kernels - contains 160 calories and while each nut carries a powerful nutritional punch, they should be eaten sparingly.

Research suggests that each kernel should be savoured, individually, to realize its nutritional benefits.

One study concluded that an almond should be chewed 25-40 times to optimise its satiability factor. Prolonged chewing of the nut aids the release of nutrients into the body.

The cost of almonds has almost doubled over the past five years. In fact, the crop is so valuable, it has attracted a new breed of thieves. Nut-nappers, as they have become known, have been making off with produce by the lorryload, leaving a hefty dent in the profits of some growers.

A truck piled high with nuts can be worth well over £100,000 ($160,000) and it is a tempting target for the opportunistic thieves. There has been a spate of thefts in recent months, although it is a problem the industry has faced for a number of years.

"Two truckloads of almonds that were processed and ready for shipment were actually taken from our facility by people not authorised to take them," says Phippen.

"When something is worth a lot, there are unscrupulous folks that would like to have it for nothing."

The industry has hit back through increased vigilance among workers on the farms. Over the past year, new checks have been put in place to ensure that freshly processed loads are not stolen from under their eyes.

"We thumbprint and take pictures of the driver, we take pictures of his licence, take pictures of the truck, we document in so many more ways than we used to, so the trust factor is being challenged a little bit and to me that's a little bit sad," says Phippen.

The close-knit industry, with mostly family-run farms, has also developed an online community where word spreads rapidly when nut-nappers are in the neighbourhood.

The local authorities have been successful in tracking down and prosecuting many of the thieves. In a recent case a man was jailed for a year after admitting his role in the attempted theft of almost 20 tonnes of almonds.

The Almond Board of California says the theft of nuts does not pose a major industry-wide problem. A more ominous threat is the growing water shortage in California. The state is suffering its worst drought since records began, over a century ago. There has been very little rain for the past three years and reservoir levels are dropping.

"They're at the lowest level we've seen for this time of the year probably in my lifetime," says Phippen.

"Could we survive a fourth year of drought is the question and the answer is, 'I don't know,' I haven't tried that yet and we just don't know what Mother Nature is going to provide between now and then."

As for the price, there is no sign that nuts will become a cheap snacking option, any time soon. Demand is growing but supplies are limited and the drought could fuel a further short-term increase.

"It's really a matter of supply and demand," says Talbot.

"Compare (nuts) to other foods and they are more expensive than potato chips and more expensive than pretzels. People willing to pay a little bit more because there is a greater nutritional value - it is the perceived value of the product."