Almond Markets: Freeze Slows Sales, Commitments

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From RPAC, LLC

The Almond Board of California this week released the February 2018 position report, which showed shipments were 190.1 million lbs. versus 152.2 million lbs. in 2017 – up 25%

DEMAND:

  • U.S. shipments: +3.7% (+5.7% YTD)
  • Exports: +35.8% (+14.9% YTD).

Sales were 112.7 million lbs. during the month.  Buyers were hesitant in much of February, until sellers pulled back around Feb 20 following the start of freezing conditions.  So it’s not a surprise to see sales and commitments slowing.

2017 Crop

Receipts YTD reached 2.25 billion lbs., right at the NASS Objective estimate, with perhaps another 10 million lbs. to go based on last seasons’ Mar-July receipts.  This is just a 6% increase in the crop and 4.4% increase in total supply.

2018 Crop 

This was a very eventful pollination season, with an early start and late finish (still blooming in some areas / varieties).

Sonora – West Merced County

PROS: 

  • Bud Set very good on all varieties.
  • Plenty of New Growth on the trees – due to excellent growing conditions last spring.
  • Long Bloom – with the cold weather, the trees hung on for a very long time.
  • Water – still adequate supply, albeit expensive for some.
  • Increased Bearing Acreage – estimated at about a 6-8% increase from 2017

CONS: 

  •  Freezing Conditions – the frost damage February 20-24 was the worst since perhaps the 1970’s.  The south and west continue to appear the least affected.  The extent of the impact remains very uncertain.
  • Poor Pollination Weather – aside from being very cold, it was rainy and windy for much of the past few weeks.  Hailstorms impacted some orchards.  At the same time, this cold prolonged the bloom.
  • Bees – the quality and quantity of bees appears down from 2017.
  • Poor development weather (post bloom).  Most days have not been warm enough for good nut development.  The trees need more weather like the past few days but it’s expected to cool down again next week.

Review and outlook:

We experienced frost damage through much of the valley in 2009.  Those events were more localized and less severe than 2018, but also came at a later development stage that made a severe impact for those affected.    Also different in ’09: the bud set was weaker having come off a large crop.  The yield that season was 1880/acre, the lowest of the past 10 seasons.  We had very minor frost damage and an excellent bud set in 2011, which was our highest yield per acre in history at 2540/acre.  There is a wide range of possibilities for the 2018 crop and reasonable estimates cannot begin until at least April.  

Since the freeze, prices quickly jumped, with Carmel types up .35/lb. and Nonpareils up .25/lb.

Shipped/Committed reached 1.946 billion lbs. (up 195 million lbs. from a year ago)  This is 74.5% of total supply (using a 2.26 billion lb. crop) or 88% of the saleable 2017 crop.

Tight Carry-out is still in the forecast, though lighter commitments indicate shipments could slow for the short-term.  Some buyers have been very active while others have decided to step back for a week or few weeks to assess the new market conditions.

Pricing is up because sellers think we could be looking at a similar or reduced supply for the 2018 season.  With shipments up 12% YTD, some price increase is necessary to slow that growth if we are in fact looking at a similar or lower supply.  Pricing for the coming weeks will primarily depend on the 2018 crop outlook and how many buyers desire to cover their needs at these new elevated levels.

Potential trade wars have sellers a bit concerned.  We hope this stays calm, and if not, hopefully other governments remember that almonds are very good for consumers.

Almond Health News:

New research from the Yale Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer institute found regular consumption of nuts, including almonds, may significantly protect against colon cancer relapse and mortality.  Patients who regularly ate at least two servings of nuts on a weekly basis showed 42 percent and 57 percent improvements.  Further Info

PloS One journal published a study “Uncovering the Nutritional Landscape of Food” that analyzed and ranked 1,000 raw foods that provide the best balance of daily nutritional requirements.  Almond ranked #1.  Further Info


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