Nuts

Walnuts: exports defy container shortage

June 14, 2021 at 11:46 AM, Der AUDITOR
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SACRAMENTO/SANTIAGO. Container shortages are a massive problem at present. Walnut exports have, nevertheless, bounced back in the US and in Chile. Prospects are, however, not quite as encouraging in terms of production. This year's production is set to fall short of last year's record, which is now estimated at 783,754 short tons. This has also impacted spot market prices in Europe.

Weather adversely impacts production

Inshell production estimates for last year's bumper crop have nominally been revised upwards and currently range at 783,754 short tons. This year's production is set to decline with estimates ranging at 738,549-760,595 short tons. Problem is the weather. California is not only witnessing one of the worst droughts on record but farmers are also reporting extensive damages caused by frost and hailstorms. The Pacific/Atlantic Crop Exchange also reports that 97% of the current crop have either already been sold or are tied up in contracts. Carry-over supplies will, therefore, be very much limited. Chandler halves are nearly sold out. Although demand for edible nuts is rather subdued in Europe at present, the spot market prices for walnuts are holding firm.

Walnut kernels

Type

EUR/kg

Light, large pieces, USA

4.95

20% Combo halves & pieces, USA

4.25

80% halves, Chandler, USA

7.35

40% halves, Chandler, USA

5.55

Extra light, hand peeled halves, Chile

9.65

Light halves, Chile

6.90

80% LHP, Romania

6.05

FCA Spain

Sharp rise in exports

The shortage of containers and vessels is still an enourmous challenge in the export market. Several loads are waiting to be shipped. Exports have, nevertheless, bounced back from last year when the pandemic first struck. US inshell exports, for instance, range at 459 million pounds since the start of the season, which is 22% up on the same period last year. Overseas shipments of shelled walnuts amount to 249 million pounds. While shipments to destinations in Asia and in Africa have risen notably, shipments to countries in Central and in South America have declined. 

US walnut shipments in mt

Destination

2019/20

2020/21

Diff.

Africa/Middle East

73,079

104,465

43%

Europe

84,062

86,660

3%

North America

81,651

85,675

5%

Asia/Oceania

46,612

68,460

47%

Central/South America

320

180

-44%

Others

1,676

3,757

124%

Total

287,399

349,196

22%

California Walnuts, 01/09/2020-31/05/2021

Exports also up in Chile

Chile had shipped around 9,590 short tons overseas in April, which is 30% up on last year. Shipments to the United Arab Emirates have most notably risen by 280%, to Turkey by 108% and to China by 81%. Market players estimate that around 60-70% of the current crop have already been sold. 

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