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Kernel prices rise to recent high on improved demand

December 15, 2023

The assessed Fancy Jr Mam H price rose to its highest level in seven weeks as demand from Europe and Asia picked up and sellers showed caution about selling too much volume at current price levels.

“Most of the large shellers have been firm on their kernel pricing,” a U.S.-based sheller said on Friday. “In our view, kernel prices are going back to $5. We’re selling only what we need to.”

In the halves market, Fancy Jr Mam H traded from $4.43-$4.73/lb FOB Texas-equivalent during the December 9-15 assessment period. The item was offered multiple times and was assessed at $4.58/lb FOB Texas, up 20 cents on the week and above its 24-week average.

The larger Fancy Mam H traded at $4.70/lb CIF Rotterdam and $4.80/lb CIF Europe during the period. The trade nets to $4.58-$4.68/lb FOB Texas after subtracting freight. The Fancy Mam H premium to Fancy Jr Mam halves was pegged at 5 cents, unchanged on the week.

Prices for Fancy Med Pcs saw a slight increase during the period. The size traded twice – once at $4.75/lb CIF Europe and again at $4.70/lb FOB Texas. The item was assessed at $4.67/lb FOB Texas based on the trade, up 2 cents.

The price rise came as multiple packers said price levels were appearing increasingly disassociated from market fundamentals.

“Supply is off 10%, our inventory is the lowest it’s been in over a decade,” a second U.S. sheller said on Tuesday. “Frankly, there is just no reason it should be trading this low.”

Meanwhile, growers in both the U.S. and Mexico are seeing a clearer picture of what their total crop might look like – and as South African growers issued their own crop forecast.

Mexico’s pecan growers’ council, the Consejo Mexicana de La Nuez, revised down its 2023 crop forecast by 12% to 275 million lbs. This comes days after the USDA reported that the U.S. pecan crop will probably reach 251.5 million lbs, slightly higher than predicted earlier this year. The USDA forecast covers about 85% of U.S. production areas.

Inshell

Prices for shelling-grade inshell firmed as shellers showed increasingly willingness to buy.

“We’ve seen the inshell market come up a little bit,” said a third U.S. sheller. “I’ve seen shellers who are paying a little more, but they are getting what they need and getting right back out.”

The majority of inshell trades were for W. Schley IS and W. Wichita IS. W. Schley IS traded eight times during the period, and W. Wichita IS traded three times. 

The assessed W Wichita IS price rose 12 cents/pt to $3.25/pt delivered Texas.

Buyers in China continued to show demand for higher-quality inshell. However, buyers there were becoming more price sensitive, sources said.

“The Chinese buying is probably pretty close to being done,” said the third U.S. sheller. “After that, they will be looking for price concessions.”

The assessed prices for Desirable IS and Stuart IS fell 17 cents/pt and 8 cents/pt on the week, respectively.

Shellers said they expect to become more active in the inshell market when China buying finishes.

“With inshell selling relatively high, it makes it harder to replace,” said the fourth U.S. sheller. “With most of the inshell going to China, we’re competing for buying the same pecans from the grower, and they have taken the price higher to get where they want.”

U.S.-origin Native IS also traded once during the period at $2.60/pt EXW Oklahoma FG.

Looking ahead

An early South African crop forecast shows that the country’s harvest, slated to begin in the summer of 2024, could reach about 76 million lbs, which would be about 65% larger than its 2023 crop. That could put downward pressure on U.S. and Mexico prices.

“When that comes in in the summer, the Chinese demand on the U.S. and Mexico will lessen, because Chinese buyers are always price conscious and the South African pecans are a cheaper commodity,” said a fifth U.S. sheller on Thursday.