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Almonds: better than expected

April 15, 2024 at 11:34 AM , Der AUDITOR
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SACRAMENTO. Demand for US almonds exceeded industry expectations in March. Although conditions have been excellent for the new crop, uncertainty prevails. Speculations abound as to what way prices will turn.

Exports dip in March

Despite dipping in March, exports are still the driving force this season as the current position report shows. Monthly exports only reached 174 million pounds in March, which is 19% down on the record 215 million pounds shipped overseas in March 2023. Domestic shipments also declined by 6% to 62 million pounds as compared with the 66 million pounds shipped in March last year. At 237 million pounds total shipments for the month have, however, exceeded industry expectations of 220 million pounds.

Exports have been the driving force this season and range 3% higher than last year at 1.36 billion pounds for September 2023 through to March 2024. Contrary to this, domestic shipments range a nominal 1% lower at 482 million pounds. At 1.83 billion pounds total shipments stand 2% higher than last year. Exports to India, the top export destination, have risen by 14%. Contrary to this, shipments to Spain range a bit lower at 134 million pounds. The United Arab Emirates are next in line and shipments to here have risen by 7%. While shipments to China and Hong Kong have slumped by 26%, the Netherlands are sporting the most notable rise of 35%.

US almond shipments in 1,000 lbs

Destination

2022/23

2023/24

Diff.

USA

487,226

482,488

-1.0%

India

251,574

288,188

14.5%

Spain

136,507

134,495

-1.5%

UAE

103,262

110,721

7.2%

China/Hong Kong

116,379

86,044

-26.1%

Germany

77,129

77,410

0.4%

Netherlands

56,440

76,192

35.0%

Italy

57,089

59,655

4.5%

Japan

54,121

57,171

5.6%

Turkey

56,511

60,150

6.4%

Morocco

42,086

42,315

0.5%

Others

410,883

364,015

-11.5%

Total

1,798,411

1,838,844

2.2%

California almonds, 01/08-31/03
Shelled and inshell

Caution over new crop

Although shipments were unexpectedly good in March, the season has now passed its peak and attention has shifted towards the new crop. Crop receipts continued to pour in in March and final receipts are expected to range at 2.45 billion pounds, which is only 6% down on the officially forecast 2.6 billion pounds. With availability becoming more limited in the remaining four months of the current season, the market should gain support and exports will slow. Domestic shipments have flatlined this season and anticipation is that this trend will persist. Early crop estimates will, however, be the main price drivers in the next few months.

Weather conditions may have been good so far, but caution prevails. Although February and March were wet, water allocations have not yet been lifted to 100% in southern California where almonds are mainly produced. Economic restraints have also made it impossible for many growers to properly invest in preventative care and field reports are mixed. A bumper crop is, in other words, far from certain and the industry is eagerly waiting for first estimates. The USDA will issue the subjective estimate on 7 May.

Speculations abound as to which direction prices will turn in the next few months. Although production has rebounded in Australia, some US suppliers insist that this will not fill the gap until the new crop arrives in California. Trouble is that many buyers have reportedly pursued a hand-to-mouth strategy and may need to meet customer demand while supplies are becoming more limited. Others, however, argue that export demand will decline.

 

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