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Most kernel prices fall as demand shifts to larger sizes 

February 23, 2024

Prices for most assessed kernel items softened in the global pecan market during the week ending on Friday even as fundamentals appeared to improve for sellers.   

Tell me more: Fancy Jr Mam H fell 8 cents during the Feb. 17-23 assessment period to $4.62/lb FOB Texas, dropping back to its level of two weeks ago, but still above its 24-week average. Fancy Lge Pcs and Fancy Med Pcs also declined, with Fancy Lge Pcs shedding 16 cents to $4.49/lb FOB Texas on thin trade and Fancy Med Pcs losing 15 cents to $4.65/lb FOB Texas based on its prior four-week average premium to Fancy Jr Mam H.   

However, Fancy Mam H prices firmed with multiple trades from $4.55-$4.95/lb FOB Texas equivalent. The average price for Fancy Mam H was $4.61 FOB Texas in early February, Stratamarkets data shows. On Friday, it was assessed at $4.73 FOB Texas, an 11-cent premium to Fancy Jr Mam H. The premium could be increasing because there is less supply of Fancy Mam H this crop year, sources said.   

“There were times last year when we were selling Mam H for less than Jr Mam H, but that isn’t happening this year,” a one U.S. sheller said on Friday.  

Driving the moves: The decline of most assessed kernel items ran counter to market sentiment, which was generally bullish during the period.   

Kernel sales to Middle East, Europe, and Asia were brisk, with shellers reporting higher-than-usual levels of international sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel. A sheller in Mexico sold 121,500 lbs of Fancy Mam H for $4.87/lb CIF Israel, while a U.S. sheller sold two mixed loads of Fancy Mam H and pieces at $4.95/lb CFR Jeddah. Kernel supply appeared to be tightening, with shellers saying they were already sold out or well on their way.  

What they’re saying: “Demand for the past three weeks has been impressive,” the sheller in Mexico said on Wednesday.   

“I don’t think we are going to be active anymore,” a second U.S. sheller said on Wednesday. “We’re done.”   

“Certain processors are fully sold, while others are out there looking for sales and can’t find buyers willing to pay market rates,” said a third U.S. sheller on Tuesday. 

Inshell   

Assessed prices for inshell increased during the period. W Wichita rose 5 cents/pt on active inter-sheller trading and continued interest from China. Inshell in Georgia is mostly sold out, but sales for remaining uncommitted inshell were higher compared with previous weeks. Stuart and Desirable both gained 10 cents/pt.   

Inshell is in short supply and has varying levels of quality, leaving shellers paying higher prices for material that takes more work to get commercial sale ready. Most of the uncommitted inshell is in the hands of shellers. 

Growers with unsold inshell are holding for higher prices.  

Noteworthy  

The USDA announced the awards for its purchase of 6.2 million lbs of pecan pieces, granting the sales to three sellers – a Georgia sheller that will sell 1.5 million lbs at an average of $5/lb, a California packager that got an average $4.88/lb award to sell 1.2 million lbs, and a Georgia peanut company that won a 3.2 million lb sale award at an average of $2.96/lb.   

The announcement confused many participants who say that the Georgia peanut company cannot buy, package, and deliver pecans at that price without losing money. Many believe that it was a clerical error, with someone at the company miscalculating how much money they would need to collect from the U.S. government to deliver the goods.  

The company that received the award at the $2.96/lb level did not return calls for comment. A USDA media relations official said any corrections to the award will be posted on the website if they are necessary but declined to elaborate.   

“I think they would go out of business if they had to fill this at these prices,” said the first U.S. sheller. “This is a $5.3 million mistake.”  

“The last time the government put out a pecan bid, the contracts went out for 40 or 50 cents higher than the market at that time,” said the second U.S. sheller. “I think $5 is closer to the reality of what the awards should be.”  

Regardless of the price levels of the awards themselves, market participants are hoping that removing 6.2 million lbs of pieces from the market will tighten an already limited supply and cause prices to firm.   

“I think the USDA sale is going to create a shortage of pieces,” said a U.S. broker on Thursday.