Almond Prices Climb to Highest Levels in Months as Offers Become Scarce

September 8, 2020

Demand from Europe lifted prompt shipment Standards prices to their highest level since May in the California almond market during the week ending September 4.

Prompt shipment Standards traded between $1.80 and $1.83/lb FAS Oakland during much of last week. On Friday, bids from Europe for the item jumped from $1.83 to $1.86/lb FAS Oakland with offers said to be difficult to find.  

The item closed the week at $1.87/lb FAS Oakland, up 8 cents/lb on the week and its highest since May 22, when the item closed the week at $1.89/lb FAS Oakland.

“There’s definitely some upward momentum,” one packer said.

The chart below shows prices for prompt shipment Standards for the previous eight weeks:

Buyers struggle to find offers

Growers were said to be reluctant to sell shelled almonds last week in the hope that prices will continue to strengthen.

That made it difficult for some packers managing call pool contracts who saw opportunities to sell. One packer said he was sitting on multiple offers from domestic buyers that he couldn’t respond to because growers were not ready to sell.

It also brought challenges for buyers seeking to cover prompt and Q4 positions.

“It’s very, very hard to find offers,” said one broker in Europe with clients in Spain. “I think California is in a good position and they’re waiting for big demand from Europe, so they’re not in a hurry.”

California typically ships more almonds to Western Europe in October than any month of the year. This would indicate that buying interest from Western Europe could ramp up later this month.

The chart below shows average monthly almond exports from California to Western Europe from 2010 to the present:

Some market participants guessed that offers from California could also be hard to find this week ahead of the release of the August 2020 position report from the Almond Board of California (ABC). The report, scheduled to be released on Friday, is widely expected to show strong shipment numbers.

“It’s wild,” said one packer last week. “In a market where, really, the crop might be three billion pounds, it’s going to be tough for a buyer to find an offer.”

Premiums strengthen for large-kernel almonds

Meanwhile, talk of a shortage of large-kernel almonds continued to drive up prices for those items.

Multiple packers said the largest share of almonds they have sized are 27/30-sized almonds, with 23/25-sized almonds making up 10% or less of their sized inventory and 20/22-sized almonds even scarcer.

“Looking at our own internal data, it’s just a dramatic difference from last year,” a packer said, referring to his company’s sized Nonpareil inventory. “Anything 23/25 or larger is virtually non-existent.”

A separate packer last week reported selling two containers of Nonpareil, 20/22, Extra almonds at $2.65/lb FAS Oakland for prompt shipment. Another packer reported seeing a bid for the item at $2.50/lb FAS Oakland that he couldn’t respond to because he doesn’t have enough of the item to sell.

With Nonpareil, 20/22, Extra almonds closing the week at $2.65/lb FAS Oakland and Nonpareil, 25/27, Extra almonds at $2.12/lb FAS Oakland, that puts the 20/22 price premium to 25/27 at 53 cents/lb.

Bids for Nonpareil, 23/25, Extra almonds were seen at $2.30/lb FAS Oakland much of the week with offers difficult to locate. Demand for large-kernel Nonpareil almonds was said to be strongest from the Middle East.

Carmel Type, 23/25, Supreme almonds traded at $1.95/lb FAS Oakland for February 2021 shipment. The item was pegged higher, at $2.03/lb FAS Oakland, for Q4 2020 shipment. Carmel Type, 20/22, SSR almonds reportedly traded at $1.96/lb FAS Oakland for Q4 shipment.

Inshell almond buying from India wanes

Demand for inshell almonds remained strong even though participants said buying interest from India cooled compared with previous weeks.

Nonpareil Inshell almonds traded early last week at $1.52/lb FAS Oakland on a 70% sliding scale. By the end of the week, bids were seen at $1.53/lb and offers at $1.55/lb FAS Oakland.   

Demand in China for inshell almonds continued to ramp up. One exporter in California’s San Joaquin County said growers in that area have struggled to meet the 70% minimum crack-out that many buyers in China prefer.  

“I don’t know if a lot of companies are booking that minimum 70%,” the exporter said.

In other trade:

  • Nonpareil, 25/27, Extra almonds traded at $2.12/lb FAS Oakland for Q4 shipment.
  • California, 32/34, Supreme almonds traded at $1.90/lb CFR to Greece for October and November delivery.
  • California, 36/40, SSR almonds traded $1.86/lb FAS Oakland for December shipment early in the week.
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