NPIS prices edged higher in the global almond market the week ending Tuesday as new crop trade activity remained concentrated on inshell.
Inshell demand from India started strong during the August 23 to August 30 assessment period but slowed at the close, market participants said. Stratamarkets assessed NPIS at $1.68/lb FAS, up 3 cents on the week.
“Nonpareil inshells have been fairly active,” said a Stanislaus County packer on Tuesday. “I would say today you can do business as low as $1.65 FAS on an unsized and as high as $1.72 FAS on a sized, with probably $1.68 to $1.70 considered market.”
Most other assessed items remained flat or gained on the week in thin trade. The exception was INX 23/25, which lost a penny.
With the first month of the 2022-2023 crop year nearly finished, trade on old crop remained active and continued to pressure new crop prices. The Stratamarkets Almond Index increased 2 cents to $2.06/lb FAS, down 82 cents from its year-ago level.
STD5 and SSR
Trade for 2022 crop STD5 and SSR-grade items remained thin on the week. BPSSR-grade items firmed while STD5 and CAL SSR-grade items leveled.
Interest from European buyers was subdued due to a host of factors.
Buyers cited ample inventories of 2021 crop kernels in Europe that were unlikely to require replenishment before November at the earliest. And plenty of inventory remains in California, which ended the 2021-2022 crop year with 490 million lbs of uncommitted inventory, a record high.
Challenging exchange rates also dented demand. On Tuesday, the euro was trading at just above parity with the U.S. dollar at $1.003.
A trader at a Spanish processor cited another factor: weak demand from consumer segments such as the ingredients market and retail supermarkets. He said his company has received just one tender for 2023 from a supermarket and the requested volume was lower than the previous year.
“In my opinion, customers are managing their purchases very cautiously because nobody knows what will happen in the next quarter,” the trader said.
Old crop STD5 traded at $1.52/lb FAS for prompt shipment with bids and offers left at similar levels at the close of the assessment period. The 2022 crop STD5 premium to 2021 crop STD5 was seen at 10-12 cents.
Demand from India continued to carry the inshell market though participants said buying interest subsided at the end of the assessment period. Participants also noted less new crop selling interest from California.
“I think California is not eager to sell new crop at the moment,” said a buyer in India. “Some packers are still busy with the old crop.”
The Stanislaus County packer referred to earlier said sellers are waiting for more data on the size and quality of the new crop before selling more inshell.
“Growers and handlers are holding back because they feel the Nonpareil crop is not really there,” the packer said. “Nobody is rushing to sell as a result.”
California is about halfway through harvest. Though it’s still too early for sufficient data to draw accurate conclusions about the size and quality of the crop, the USDA estimated a contraction in the Nonpareil crop in its most recent forecast.
NPIS 27/30 traded multiple times from $1.70/lb FAS to $1.72/lb FAS. Trade for unsized NPIS was less active. The NPISEM price premium to NPX 27/30 narrowed a penny to 15 cents.
Trade on INIS was less active with trades reported from $1.43/lb FAS to $1.48/lb FAS. The NPIS price premium to INIS increased to 3 cents to 23 cents. Demand for INIS from India could increase if that premium continues to widen, participants said.
Extra No. 1 and Supreme
Most Extra and Supreme-grade items showed modest gains during the week on thin trade. Some participants noted an increase in inquiries from the Middle East.
NPX 20/22 showed the strongest improvement, increasing 16 cents on the week based on a reported trade. Packers have been reluctant to sell large items such as the NPX 20/22 due to uncertainty about sizing.
“We aren’t currently offering anything larger than a 25/27,” a Tulare County packer said. Buyers, however, have shown more interest in securing larger kennels amid talk of a potential shortage.
Prices for old crop Extra and Supreme-grade items continued to fall. On Tuesday, a buyer reported trades for 2021 crop NPX 23/25 at $2.20/lb CIF Qingdao, NPX 25/27 at $2.12/lb CIF Qingdao, and NPX 27/30 at $2.00/lb CIF Qingdao.
Market participants said they expect several multinational consumer packaged goods companies to issue tenders for almonds soon, ranging from 10 to 20 million pounds each.
“That could be some more demand coming in, hopefully,” said a California packer familiar with the upcoming tenders.
On Wednesday, the USDA is scheduled to stop receiving offers for a tender it issued for millions of pounds of Supreme-grade Nonpareil, California Type, and Mission Type almonds earlier this month.