Nuts

Almonds: expectations far cry from reality in Spain

May 10, 2023 at 12:52 PM , Der AUDITOR
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MADRID/BRUSSELS. Although Spain has witnessed excessive heat and little rain in recent weeks and months, the producers’ association AEOFRUSE is surprisingly upbeat in the first subjective estimate for almonds in 2023/2024. EU imports were not that bad in 2022.

Utopian estimate

AEOFRUSE expects almond kernel production to reach 128,429 mt, comprising 108,433 mt of conventional kernels and 19,986 mt of organic kernels. Production in other words has the potential to rise more than twofold on the 60,000 mt harvested last year. Yet, this is a best-case scenario.

The association argues that last year’s frost, which prompted a 43% decline in production, gave the trees a rest that will boost output this year. New plantations and irrigation will also help to increase production. Irrigated plantations comprise 17% of the total area planted (89,125 ha) and account for 57% of production. According to the General Registry of Agricultural Production (REGEPA) the planted area spans 638,890 ha, of which 525,840 ha are productive. Organic almond cultivation comprises 25% of the total surface and an area of 130,145 ha.

AEOFRUSE, however, also concedes that drought and high temperatures may render downward corrections necessary. Reports indeed state that there has been little rain since September and although the trees are growing fruits, they are hardly carrying any leaves in the areas worst affected by drought. Prospects are, however, better in areas that have received more rain. The fruits of the late varieties also have a better appearance than the early varieties. Everything will stand and fall with the weather as rain is urgently required.

EU spending up but imports down

At EUR 1.293 billion the import value for shelled almonds to the EU ranged 12% higher than the EUR 1.153 billion spent in 2021, which marked a downturn. Although the import value started to climb again last year, it is still quite a way off from the EUR 1.480 billion spent in 2020. The import volume has, by contrast, declined by 3% in 2022 as compared with 2021. Yet, it should be noted that the volumes imported in 2021 hit a record 298,340 mt and that the volumes imported in 2022 are roughly on par with the 288.069 mt registered in 2020.

Shipments form the US may have declined by 4.4% in 2022 but the US remains the most important supplier for the EU by far. The industry is currently waiting for the USDA Subjective Estimate, which will be issued on Friday. Although the prospects for the new crop are improving daily, it is still far from certain how the cold and wet conditions witnessed in winter and during the crucial bloom phase will play out. US exports have also been strong in recent months and shipments to Europe were 2.2% up on last year at the end of March. California Almonds will issue the next position report on Thursday.

Shipments from Australia to the EU rose by 14% in 2022. The 2023 crop, however, failed expectations due to flooding, poor weather conditions and a lack of beehives. The Almond Board of Australia is expected to revise the production estimates downwards by 25%, pre-season crop estimates were set at 156,200 mt in January. This will prove an additional challenge for farmers, who are already confronted with high production costs and low prices in the global market. As shipments from the UK have more than tripled the reexporter has advanced to the third most important supplier for the EU.

EU almond imports (in mt)

Country

2021

2022

Diff.

USA

280,265

267,945

-4.4%

Australia

13,693

15,658

14.3%

UK

373

1,163

211.8%

Morocco

792

836

5.5%

Afghanistan

372

741

99.2%

Chile

452

409

-9.5%

Vietnam

39

295

656.4%

Turkey

476

227

-52.3%

Pakistan

274

195

-28.8%

Canada

120

180

50.0%

Others

1,484

823

-44.6%

Total

298,340

288,472

-3.3%

Eurostat (Comext) 20/03/23
HS Code 080212 – Fresh or dried almonds, shelled

 

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