Nuts

Almonds: NASS cuts production estimates

July 14, 2022 at 8:27 AM, Der AUDITOR
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MADRID/SACRAMENTO. Prolonged drought coupled with frost damages and rising production costs have prompted the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to revise its production estimates for almonds downwards. California is, in fact, in crisis mode as farmers are left to struggle.

Lower yields weigh on US production

NASS has revised production estimates for almonds downwards to 2.6 billion lbs (1.179 billion mt) in the recently issued Objective Measurement Report. This is not only 7% down on the 2.9 billion lbs initially anticipated in the subjective estimate in May but also 11% down on last year's 2.92 billion lbs production. While yields still ranged at 2,210 lbs/acre (1 mt/acre) in 2021, they are anticipated to decline to 2,210 lbs/acre (0.86 mt/acre) in 2022.  Bearing acres have, by contrast, risen from 1.32 million acres to 1.37 million acres.

Many factors have contributed to the decline in yields.  Rising costs have, for instance, prompted many farmers to use less fertilisers. Blue Diamond Almonds also states that pests are becoming more of a problem every year. Water rationing also differs throughout California. While some farmers are allocated enough water in some places, there is no water available in others.

Global production also impacted

These revised estimates render the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council's recently issued estimates for global production highly optimistic. While the INC anticipates a global production of 1.64 million mt, the new estimates for the United States would rather result in a lower figure of 1.54 million mt, which is 7% down on last year. Australia is also confronted with unstable weather conditions and drought has also impacted production in the last twenty years here. Frost and drough have, in addition, created extensive damage in Spain. 

Global almond production, kernel basis, in mt

Country

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

USA*

1,322,000

1,179,000

-11.0%

Australia

124,439

138,650

11.4%

Spain

105,000

75,051

-28.5%

Turkey

18,000

26,600

47.8%

Portugal

15,000

25,000

66.7%

Italy

8,500

22,000

158.8%

Tunisia

16,500

15,000

-9.1%

Morocco

13,000

13,000

0.0%

Chile

12,000

12,000

0.0%

Iran

4,000

4,000

0.0%

Others

34,000

34,000

0.0%

Total

1,665,870

1,544,301

-7.3%

INC, Almond Board of California, *USDA NASS (July 2022), Almond Board of Australia, AEOFRUSE and DESCALMENDRA, Aegean Exporters' Association, Greek Nuts & Fruits Trade Association and others
July 2022

Exports pick up at end of the season

US exports have gained speed in the final months of the season but still range below last year. Monthly shipments reached 278 million lbs (126,367 mt) in June, which is 26% up on the 220 million lbs (100,016 mt) shipped in June last year. Domestic shipments, however, range 2% lower at 64 million lbs (28,993 mt). Total exports for the season have declined by 9% on last year and domestic shipments by 4%. The United States shipped a total of 2.46 billion lbs (1.118 million mt) of almonds between August and June. While shipments to leading destinations such as India, Spain and the United Arab Emirates have remained relatively firm, shipments to China and Germany have declined sharply by 25% and 21% respectively. As the Almond Board of California estimates the uncommitted inventory at more than 545 million lbs (250,000 mt), which will largely be carried into the next season, supplies will remain high.

US almond shipments in lbs

Destination

2020/21

2021/22

Diff.

USA

737,194,974

707,464,554

-4.0%

India

337,802,319

339,528,452

0.5%

Spain

213,191,798

214,014,616

0.4%

China/Hong Kong

158,339,707

119,290,582

-24.7%

UAE

113,800,107

113,256,008

-0.5%

Germany

137,964,572

109,559,304

-20.6%

Netherlands

87,207,473

97,694,001

12.0%

Japan

84,250,632

90,989,125

8.0%

Italy

89,976,251

78,935,988

-12.3%

Turkey

63,083,661

64,658,025

2.5%

Others

645,926,942

529,131,263

-18.1%

Total

2,668,738,436

2,464,521,918

-7.7%

Almond Board of California; Aug-Jun, inshell and shelled

Bleak prospects

As the Los Angeles Times, however, reports the situation is far worse in California than these official figures suggest. Issue is that around 1.3 billion lbs of unsold almonds are still waiting for buyers at processing and packing facilities. Bottlenecks and supply chain issues have disrupted shipments this season and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. This situation is particualrly devasting for growers, who do not get paid until their almonds reach overseas customers and the Almond Alliance of California reckons that the industry has lost around USD 2 billion in value between September and February.

While inflation and prolonged drought are driving up the costs of production and water supplies, almond prices range at an historic low of around USD 2/lbs. The silver lining is that almonds have a shelf life of around two years and that producers are investing in warehouses. Spot market prices in Europe presently range at EUR 4.45-7.90/kg (USD 4.47-7.94/kg) FCA Spain.

Almonds

Type

EUR/kg

USD/kg

Valencia, 12/14 mm, natural, Spain

4.45

4.47

Valencia, +14 mm, natural, Spain

4.65

4.67

Bio-Valencia, 12/14 mm, natural, Spain

7.80

7.84

Bio-Valencia, +14 mm, natural, Spain

7.90

7.94

Largueta, 13/14 mm, natural, Spain

6.20

6.23

California, SSR, 23/25, blanched, USA

5.40

5.42

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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