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Almonds: estimates too optimistic

May 16, 2023 at 8:31 AM , Der AUDITOR
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SACRAMENTO. While the market has been waiting for the first official crop estimate to be issued for almonds in California, the industry is far from satisfied with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). April was also highly disappointing for US exports.

NASS leaves much to be desired

NASS forecasts production at 2.50 billion pounds, 3% down on last year’s 2.57 billion pounds. Trouble is that heavy rains and unprecedented stormy weather disrupted pollination and limited bee flying was reported. In the subjective estimate the 500 randomly selected growers also report that high winds and oversaturated soil downed trees. At 1,810 pound per acre yields are, therefore, anticipated to drop to the lowest since 2005. In addition, the cold weather witnessed in March and April will cause further delays. Silver lining, however, is that water availability will not be an issue this year.

Yet, these estimates seem rather optimistic judging by the fact that the subjective estimate had to be revised downwards in the past two years, whereas the objective estimate was more accurate. This highlights the importance of the objective estimate, which will be issued on 7 July. Expectation is rather that the crop will range at 2.25-2.40 billion pounds. The damaged caused by the spring storms and wet weather cannot, in addition, be fully assessed at present and the industry reckons that more trees will need to be removed, which may very well bring the bearing acres down to 1.366 million.

California almond acreage and production

Value

2022

2023

Diff.

Bearing acres

1,350,000

1,380,000

2.2%

Yield per acre

1,900

1,810

-4.7%

Production (million pounds)

2,565

2,500

-2.5%

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service 12/05/23

Disappointing April

Although the industry anticipated a decline in shipments in April, the 114.7 million pounds registered is highly disappointing. The figure also falls 32% short of the 168 million pounds shipped in April 2022. Issue is that sellers held on to supplies and many buyers preferred to wait for official crop estimates. While domestic shipments declined by 6% between August and April as compared with the same period in 2021/2022, exports rose by 8% from 1.452 billion pounds in 2021/2022 to 1.349 billion pounds in 2022/2023. Total shipments range a nominal 3% higher at 1.996 billion pounds.

India remains the most important export destination for the United States and shipments to here should pick up in the next few months. Spain is next in line and although shipments to Europe declined in April, supplies will certainly be needed soon. Shipments to China/Hong Kong have picked up by 21% this season so far and shipments were good in April as these referred to purchases made before prices started to climb. As inquiries are up in China, sales are expected to pick up here. The United Arab Emirates and Turkey have also stepped up buying considerably and shipments to Germany are 6% up. Crop receipts range at 2.563 billion pounds, 12% down on last year’s 2.905 billion pounds.

US almond shipments in 1,000 lbs

Destination

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

USA

579,404

544,046

-6.1%

India

266,229

271,586

2.0%

Spain

159,962

148,686

-7.1%

China/Hong Kong

104,734

126,385

20.7%

UAE

83,577

109,391

30.9%

Germany

80,255

85,220

6.2%

Netherlands

72,043

64,814

-10.0%

Italy

62,628

64,522

3.0%

Japan

73,595

62,438

-15.2%

Turkey

46,176

62,339

35.0%

Others

399,781

456,240

14.1%

Total

1,928,384

1,995,667

3.5%

California almonds, 01/08-30/04
Shelled and inshell

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price chart, almonds, natural 13/14, Largueta
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