Nuts

Almonds: production to exceed 100,000 mt

May 25, 2021 1:40 PM, Der AUDITOR
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MADRID/SACRAMENTO. Subjective almond production estimates have recently been issued in Spain. Although only 15% of the planted area is irrigated, plantations with irrigation account for as much as 50% of production in Spain. Thereby showing how crucial sufficient water supplies are. Although production is expected to hit another record in California, the state is preparing for severe drought with dire consequences for growers.

Production set to decline in Spain

AEOFRUSE, the Spanish association of dried fruit and carob bean producers, presently estimates this year’s almond production at 109,364 mt, which is 5.53% down on the May estimated of 115,633 mt issued in 2020. Bearing acreage is estimated at 607,644 ha, of which 517,603 are rainfed and 90.041 ha are irrigated. Although irrigated plantations only account for around 15% of the planted area in Spain, they supply around 50% of production.

The anticipated decline in production is driven by sudden frosts during flowering and fruit setting. Poor pollination is, in addition, expected to cut Marcona production short. Fortunately, new plantations should offset any further declines in production. Prices are, therefore, relatively firm. Blanched Valencia almonds, size 12/14 mm, are trading EUR 0.15/kg lower than last week and natural Valencia almonds EUR 0.05/kg higher.

Almonds

Type

EUR/kg

Valencia, 12/14 mm, natural, Spain

3.60-3.85

Valencia, 12/14 mm, blanched, Spain

4.45-4.65

Pareil, 27/30 mm, natural, Spain

3.70

Pareil, 18/20 mm, natural, Spain

3.95

Carmel, SSR, 20/22, natural, USA

4.11

Butte Padre, SSR, 30/32, natural, USA

4.02

FCA Spain


Nominal decline in exports

Spain exported 8,795 mt of conventional, organic and processed almonds in March, which is 2% down on the 8,971 mt exported in March last year. Total exports declined nominally by 1.7% to 79,429 mt between August 2020 and March 2021. The EU remains the most important export destination by far. Germany is the most important intra-EU destination (+3.4% to 18,873 mt), followed by France (-4.2% to 17,309 mt) and Italy (-4.6% to 15,381 mt).

Shipments to extra-EU countries are nearly 8% down on the same period last year. Here the UK is the most important destination (-12.5% to 4,051 mt), followed by Switzerland (+24.3% to 1,479 mt). Shipments to the US have declined sharply by 57.7% to 1,401 mt. No shipments have been recorded to China this year so far and shipments to Hong Kong range as low as 540,000 mt. By contrast, shipments to Saudi Arabia have surged by 241% to 1,150 mt.

These figures, however, also include almonds imported from California and Australia that have been processed in Spain. The country imported 11,239 mt in January alone, of which California supplied as much as 90%. Total imports range at 68,621 mt for August 2020 to February 2021 and, thereby, only fall nominally short of the 70,634 mt exported in this period.

Almond exports, Spain in mt

Destination

2019/2020*

2020/2021*

Diff

EU

68,018

68,718

1.0%

Rest of Europe

6,745

6,228

-7.7%

North America, Canada

3,772

1,662

-55.9%

Middle East, Asia

912

1,534

68.2%

Africa

759

800

5.4%

Oceania

363

341

-5.8%

Total

80,739

79,429

-1.7%

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Spain *Aug-Mar


Record US production comes at a high cost

Almond production in California is, by contrast, expected to hit another record this year and may even reach 1.45 million mt (3.20 billion pounds). That is if the subjective estimate issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) proves true. Such an output, however, comes at a high cost as California is preparing for severe drought. As The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has slashed water allocations for many almond growers to zero. Allocations ranged at 20% of what farmers should normally receive last year. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor drought is hitting as much of 88% of the US West at present as opposed to 40% last year.

Although good pollination was reported throughout the orchards, the weather was unusually warm in California in spring and precipitation dropped to its lowest. Many important reservoirs can only provide less than half of their capacities and snowpack only ranges at 4% of what is normal. This year’s drought is not only driven by the climate crisis but also by the La Niña weather phenomenon, which tends to shift storms north of California. Although most growers surveyed by NASS are optimistic concerning production, it should be noted that many are also forced to turn to more expensive private water suppliers and to cut costs. Some farmers are even letting older almond trees wither to save water for younger trees.

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price chart, almonds. natural, +14, Valencia
price chart, almonds, natural 13/14, Largueta
price chart, almonds, blanched, 27/30, California SSRmore price charts 

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