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New sales and shipments decline in final month of California’s 2021-2022 crop year

August 17, 2022

A sharp drop in July new crop sales left California almonds sellers in their lowest new crop sold position on record at the start of a new marketing year, according to the latest position report.

The July position report, released on Friday by the Almond Board of California and the last for the 2021-2022 crop year, showed new crop sales fell 42% from 107 million lbs in June to 62 million lbs in July. Cumulative new crop sales reached 298 million, down 33% from the same period last year.

July shipments, meanwhile, declined 26% month year-on-year to 169 million lbs.

“The shipment number being down can be justified, but the sales is really what’s concerning because there is no demand from any of the markets,” a California packer said on Friday.

The drop in new monthly sales puts California’s new crop sold position at 11.4% of the forecasted 2.6 billion lb crop. Its sold position falls to 9.6% after adding the 490 million lbs of unsold inventory California carried in from the previous crop.

The chart below shows California’s new crop sold position in July as a percentage of new crop plus uncommitted inventory for the previous five years. The 2022-2023 crop year sold position is based on the NASS objective measurement forecast:

“Although this is not unknown territory for the new crop sold percentage at the end of July, the weight of old crop sales will likely continue to cut into new crop sales as we progress through the next months,” a second California packer wrote in a market update on Friday. “California will have its work cut out as it slugs away at old crop sales and catches up with new crop at the same time.”

California also ended the 2021-2022 crop year in its lowest sold position on record at 86% of old crop plus carry-in. From June to July, California improved its 2021-2022 crop sold position by just 2% as new sales of the old crop fell 47% from June to July.

Exports to India fell 67% from June to July from 39 million lbs to 13 million lbs. The decline caught many observers by surprise given the decent demand from India in recent months for the country’s Diwali festival in October.

Prices in the local market in India firmed more than 5% following the report, but weakened on Tuesday, multiple market sources in India said. 

Still, the decline in shipments to India could improve inshell demand from India in the weeks ahead and help bolster prices, sources said. India buys consistently from California throughout the year and is California’s largest export market.

Month-on-month exports to Western Europe also fell sharply, declining 49% from 78 million lbs in June to 40 million lbs in July. However, the decline was not expected to lift prices in the near term for STD5 or SSR-grade items.

“I don’t think [the position report] will change anything really,”  a Germany-based buyer said on Monday. “As far as the market here in Europe is concerned, most people have bought enough material, and don’t really need anything until the end of the fourth quarter.”

Total exports showed their steepest month-on-month drop in recent memory, falling 50% from 215 million lbs in June to 112 million lbs in July. Exports in July were down 30% from the year-ago month.

Some observers blamed the shutdowns in July at the Port of Oakland for the drop in monthly shipments. However, other sources expressed caution about faulting port closures for the fall in exports given that domestic shipments also declined, albeit not as sharply as exports. From June to July, domestic shipments fell 12% to 57 million lbs.

Crop receipts climbed by 8 million lbs from June to July, a bigger increase compared with the same period in previous years. The increase puts the 2021 crop at 2.922 billion lbs, 185 million lbs smaller than last year’s crop.