Back

Prices rise on bullish fundamentals

July 13, 2022

Reports showing a smaller almond crop in California and record June shipments shored up prices in the global container market the week ending Tuesday.

The Stratamarkets Almond Index jumped 8 cents to $2.16/lb FAS, its biggest weekly gain since last November. The index is an unweighted average of Stratamarkets’ 18 weekly price assessments.

“I think the market is finally turning a corner,” a Madera County packer said.

On Tuesday, the latest position report from the Almond Board of California showed June shipments at 278 million pounds and improved monthly sales for both current and new crop compared with last June. But cumulative new crop sales for May and June remain down versus last year.

The position report followed a USDA forecast released on Friday showing California’s almond crop contracting by 11% this year. (For more on the position report and the forecast, see stories starting on page 4.)

Prices reacted quickly to the forecast, with bids increasing

5-10 cents two hours after the USDA released its estimate. Sellers raised offers even higher.

Trade, however, was thin throughout the week as market participants waited for the reports. Participants said they expect trade to rev up later this week. By late Tuesday, there were signs that was beginning to happen. 

Europe, Middle East

Buyers in Europe continued to work through a supply glut as the U.S. dollar rose to another record high against the euro. Some market participants said they believe buyers in Europe are well-covered until next year. Trading sources in Europe said containers are now arriving in the region after long delays caused by shipping problems. More delayed containers are expected to arrive in the next 45 days.

As importers managed storage issues, large quantities of almonds available on the local spot maket in European destination ports such as Rotterdam and Hamberg limited upside price movement.

A Spain-based trader said it was possible to buy and take immediate delivery of up to 10 loads of STD5 at Eur 4.08/kg FCA Spain (duty paid). A STD5 shipment priced at $1.75/lb FAS and shipped at a 10 cents/lb freight would arrive in Spain on a duty-paid basis at Eur 4.20/kg at Monday’s exchange rate, according to Stratamarkets’ calculations – 6 cents/lb more than the local market price.

Adding to the demand problems in Europe, the tender market for processed almonds and manufactured products has slowed, a trader in Europe said.

The trader said one processor recently closed a large contract for almond meal at Eur 4.15/kg DDP France, which he described as “incredibly cheap,” arguing that a shipment of STD5 to Europe would cost nearly as much (Eur 4.10/kg) on a DDP basis. STD5 is a key input for manufactured products.

European traders and buyers expressed consternation about the strengthening U.S. dollar. On Tuesday, the euro hit parity with the dollar for the first time in 20 years.

As a result, some local buyers are considering whether to substitute STD5 with Spanish almonds as the spread between the two origins narrows. Unselected Valencias, the Spanish origin item most similar to STD5, was bid at Eur 4.20/kg DDP Germany on Tuesday, 10 cents/kg higher than the equivalent delivered price for STD5.

Demand projections have also been tempered by concerns over European consumer spending amid soaring energy prices and high inflation rates. Traders said that with almonds used as an ingredient in luxury food items, there could be less on the shelves in the future as retailers and supermarkets focus on more affordable items.

High freight costs are also causing problems for some buyers. A U.K.-based trader said current rates to ship a container  from the U.S. West Coast to Italy ranged from 16 cents/lb to 20 cents/lb, depending on the shipping line.

“I’ve told my clients that if there is going to be any firmness in the market, it’s got to come from a change on the supply side rather than any increase in demand,” said a U.K.-based trader.

After STD5 bids and offers climbed following the forecast, packers reported trades for the item on Monday at $1.72/lb FAS and $1.78/lb FAS. SSR-grade items also climbed.

Trading activity in the Middle East stalled this week due to the five-day Eid al-Adha religious fesival, which began on July 9.

Asia

An increase in the current crop NPIS price appeared to confirm speculation that importers in India have more inshell to buy.

NPIS climbed 12 cents on the week based on two verified trades on Tuesday at $1.85/lb FAS and $1.86/lb FAS. Offers from California were seen 10 cents higher.

The current crop INIS price remained unchanged on the week at $1.54/lb FAS based on a normalized trade at that level on Saturday. INIS was the only assessed item that failed to gain on the week.

New crop NPIS prices also climbed, though demand remained light. Stratamarkets assessed new crop NPIS for September shipment at $1.81/lb FAS, up 7 cents on the week. 

Sources in India said prices in the local market firmed 3-5% following the NASS forecast, which could help spur demand from India for current and new crop inshell.

Sellers remained bullish on prospects for business with China in the weeks ahead, particularly with expectations that buyers in Europe and the U.S. could stay off the market for the remainder of the year. Sellers reported robust demand from China in late June.

However, a China-based trading source said the threat of new lockdowns due to rising Covid-19 infection rates was curbing buying interest in the country.

“Inshell sales are miserable at the moment,” he said.

Demand from Japan appeared thin during the assessment week as the greenback increased to a 24-year high against the yen, sapping buying interest in Japan.

US

Buyers in the U.S. are believed to be adequately covered for the year, and unable to find sufficient selling interest for 2023. But it’s a market that could be more attractive for sellers in the near-term because it’s easier for them to ship product to U.S. customers.

“It’s a faster transaction and a faster conversion to cash,” said a Stanislaus Count packer on Tuesday. “I think California will lean on that.”

image_pdfDownload as PDF
Scroll to Top