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Almonds: less than comfortable pole position for California

August 8, 2023 at 9:35 AM , Der AUDITOR
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MADRID/SACRAMENTO. California and Spain will be off to a comfortable start in the new almond season, but harvest delays and odd weather conditions may change the picture. Global production is set to rise by a mere 4%.

California enjoys pole position

Judging by current estimates global almond production should climb to 1.6 million mt in 2023/2024. USDA NASS pegged the objective forecast at 2.6 billion pounds (1.8 million mt) on 12 July, which is 1% up on last year. Industry representatives are, however, calling this figure into question as weather conditions were unusually cold and wet during the crucial blooming phase in California. Harvesting will start late and be quite a challenge for growers. Not only do the trees require irrigation at a rather inconvenient time due to the extremely hot conditions witnessed in recent days but pest management will also be more difficult this year. Shaking will reportedly only start in the second half of August.

Production is set to rebound to 121,000 mt in Spain. Rain arrived just in time for the crop in May and June before temperatures soared in July. Spain is presently enjoying a respite, but meteorologists warn that the most severe heatwave this summer may start this weekend and heat stress certainly is an issue. The bearing planted area comprises 525,840 ha, of which organic production presents 16%. As the total area planted adds up to 761,662 ha production is expected to rise sharply in the next five years.

Prospects are, by contrast, less encouraging in Australia. The total area planted only adds up to 65,000 ha and no sharp growth is expected. If hectares top out at 70,000-75,000 ha production will range at 200,000 mt in the next few years. This year, production fell 30% short of the pre-harvest estimate due to adverse weather conditions and issues with pollination. The El Niňo weather phenomenon may also prompt water supplies to become a problem.

Global almond production (mt)

Country

2022/23

2023/24

Diff.

USA

1,163,000

1,179,000

1.4%

Spain

61,684

120,633

95.6%

Australia

158,806

118,950

-25.1%

Italy

22,000

42,000

90.9%

Turkey

25,000

25,000

0.0%

Portugal

20,000

25,000

25.0%

Morocco

18,000

18,500

2.8%

Chile

12,400

14,150

14.1%

Tunisia

13,000

12,000

-7.7%

Greece

10,000

8,000

-20.2%

Others

4,000

6,000

50.0%

Total

1,507,890

1,569,233

4.1%

Almond Board of California, Almond Board of Australia, Aegean Exporters’ Association, Greek Nuts & Fruits Trade Association and other INC sources, USDA NASS, Mesa Nacional de Frutos Secos, July 2023

Stocks weigh on prices

With the US accounting for 75% of production in 2023/2024 California is once again in a comfortable position to dominate the market. Although exports were slow to pick up in 2022/2023, demand improved in China after Covid restrictions were lifted and the Middle East has become a very important market. Shipments to Europe have, by contrast, declined and domestic shipments are lagging behind last year. The Almond Board of California will issue the final position report for 2022/2023 on 11 August and initial projections state that total shipments will reach 2.78 billion pounds (1.26 million mt). While confident voices reckon that end-of-season stocks will range below the crucial 500-million-pound (227,000 mt) mark, exporters rather predict 775-805 million pounds (351,000-365,000 mt). Fuelled by low prices demand is strong but these supplies should weigh on prices until December unless of course production estimates are sharply revised.

Almonds

Conventional

EUR/kg

USD/kg

Valencia, 12/14 mm, natural

3.75

4.12

Valencia, +14 mm, natural

3.95

4.34

Guara, 12/14 mm, natural

3.95

4.34

Organic

Valencia, 12/14 mm, natural

7.20

7.92

FCA Spain

 

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price chart, almonds, natural, +14, Valencia
price chart, almonds, natural 13/14, Largueta
price chart, almonds, blanched, 27/30, California SSR
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