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Western inshell prices fall as selling interest increases

March 1, 2024

The assessed W Wichita inshell price softened in the global pecan market during the week ending on Friday as sellers took advantage of recent gains. 

Go deeper: W Wichita fell 2 cents to $3.38/pt CNF Texas during the February 24-March 1 assessment period. Underscoring the increased selling interest, trade was active on the item, with six trades recorded during the period – more than Stratamarkets had recorded in any one week since January.

Driving the move: Despite its decline during the period, W Wichita had been on an upswing, rising from $3.25/pt CNF Texas on Feb. 2 to $3.40/pt on Feb. 23. The higher prices have prompted more selling interest, which eroded some of the recent price gains, though the assessed price on Friday remained well above its 24-week average.  

The approach of summer, when cold storage costs increase, and South Africa’s entry into the inshell market was also driving selling interest, sources said.  

Kernel 

In the kernel market, activity slowed during the period as participants waited to see how the USDA Section 32 purchase program and the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai last week will affect prices.  

“If kernel prices are going to rise, it will take a few weeks for that to settle out after the USDA purchase and Gulfood,” a U.S. sheller said on Wednesday.   

“It has been fairly quiet this week,” a U.S. broker said on Monday. 

Sales of Fancy Jr Mam H stalled, with only two recorded sales of the item at $4.55/lb CFR Europe for two loads and $4.70/lb CFR Europe for two loads, also on Thursday.  Fancy Mam H traded four times and was assessed at $4.55/lb FOB Texas, down 18 cents and at parity with Fancy Jr Mam H. 

Sales of other kernel items were also slim, with no trades reported for Fancy Lge Pcs or Fancy Sm Pcs. Fancy Med Pcs traded once as part of a mixed load. But some shellers said they were finding enough business to keep busy.    

“They are buying, slowly but surely,” a sheller in Mexico said on Tuesday. While the month has been slow, “it’s not as slow for us as it was in January.” 

Another factor impacting sales is many buyers in Europe already have their spring and summer purchases booked.  

“The late buyers have now at least contracted some of their needs,” said the U.S. broker.     

What else they’re saying: “The market is still too mushy,” the first U.S. sheller said on Wednesday. “I have gotten pushback on my offers in a way I haven’t in previous weeks.”  

“Several times now, I’ve submitted offers, and the buyers have responded that they found someone to sell to them for 10 cents less,” a second sheller in Mexico said on Thursday.  

Zoom in 

The price moves during the period prompted a contraction in the Fancy Jr Mam H premium to W Wichita, which is seen as a broad measure of margins for shellers. The premium narrowed by 8 cents to $1.14 mostly due to the decline in the assessed Fancy Jr Mam H price. 

“Margins are getting thinner,” the second sheller in Mexico said on Thursday.  “We won’t be surviving if inshell keeps going up.” 

Cold storage report  

There were 32.9 million lbs of kernel and 139.9 million lbs of inshell – for a total of 205.72 million inshell-equivalent lbs of pecans – in cold storage throughout the U.S at the end of January, according to the latest Cold Storage report released on Monday by the USDA.  

Those stocks were about 2.5% less than what was held in cold storage at the end of January of 2023. The report also shows that growers have stashed an additional 2,462 lbs of kernel and an additional 71,272 lbs of inshell – a total of 76,196 inshell-equivalent lbs – during the month of January.  

The total volume of inshell-equivalent lbs of pecans held in cold storage is at its lowest level since 2011.