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New position report shows better-than-expected monthly shipments

May 18, 2022

The latest monthly shipment report might have bolstered prices had it come earlier in the crop year. But with less than three months to go, the report showed no sign of moving the market off its sideways direction despite some positive news for sellers.

“I don’t know if it changes anything, fundamentally,” said a Kern County packer on Monday. “It just doesn’t make things worse.”

Perhaps the best news for sellers from last week’s report from the Almond Board of California (ABC) is handlers shipped 245 million lbs in April, down 2% from last April. That’s significant because shipments this crop year have been down as much as 30% from their year-ago levels and have trailed every month except August.

Though monthly shipments were better than expected, participants said it doesn’t feel like shipping is getting easier.

“It’s still extremely difficult to get containers, get equipment, and even when you’ve got containers, to get them to the port,” a U.K.-based trader said. “The fact of the matter is shipments are still behind year-to-date, and people are trying to get in inventory in anticipation of further shipping problems.”

The stronger-than-expected monthly shipments indicate California’s carry-out is likely to be less than many packers expected earlier in the crop year. That could make new crop supply, already expected to be larger than this year’s supply, more manageable for sellers.

“With three months remaining for the current crop year, the industry may be on track to bring the carry-out down from earlier estimates of 950 million pounds to a very conceivable and more manageable 860 million pounds,” a packer wrote in a market report published on Friday.

New sales showed healthy global demand. At 268 million lbs, new sales in April beat their year-ago level by 3%.

The new sales helped California increase its sold position as a percent of new crop plus carry in from 73% in March to 78% in April, still the lowest on record for April. 

Domestic shipments, erratic in recent months, continued to fluctuate in April. Domestic shipments fell 14% from March to April to 62 million lbs, a five-year low.

Export shipments increased to 183 million lbs in April, the second time this crop year that monthly export shipments beat their year-ago level.

Spain drove export demand, taking 31 million lbs in April compared with 19 million lbs last April. India also helped, importing 28 million lbs of inshell on a kernel weight basis compared with 22 million lbs last April.

Though packers expressed optimism over monthly shipments and new sales, the April position report showed nothing materially different about global market fundamentals.

April crop receipts revealed no surprises: California’s 2021-2022 crop will reach about 2.9 billion lbs, 200 million lbs smaller than last year’s record crop. Uncommitted inventory fell to 771 million pounds but maintained its record high compared with its year-ago level. 

Market prices showed little reaction to the report.

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