Despite the weather conditions in the Mediterranean that are close to perfect for the production of dried fruits, concerns over Turkish vine fruit and potential shortages in the coming months still remain.
Californian raisin sales have reduced over the last month and about 60 000 – 70 000 tons are expected to be left to carry over at the end of July, of which the full volume may not be suitable for export due to the issues with quality that have been experienced this year. About 240 000 tons have been forecast for 2018, which leaves about 310 000 tons available including the 70 000 tons mentioned earlier.
Export prices are likely to stay in the range of $1.70 – $1.80 per pound. This price is influenced by the price per ton, which is expected to be set in the region of $2 500/ ton.
Because of this high price, there is significant incentive for Turkish farmers to dry large quantities of their fruits as raisins this year in order to maximise profits. In this event, pressure will be put on the cost of Turkish sultanas, although prices have remained unchanged at $1 850 – $1 900/tonne fob Izmir up to now for specially cleaned type No. 9 quality.
South African dried vine fruits are fully sold out, while Iranian dried vine fruits cannot be exported due to political reasons, which reduces the available options for European buyers. Although a large crop of sultanas is being predicted for China, the long transit time is an issue. The question also stands as to whether the fruit will be ready for use without further reprocessing upon arrival.
Greek currants have been a cause for concern due to significant rain in the low-lying areas of Greece. In theory, rain shouldn’t be a problem for grapes this time of year, but it can cause the fruit to grow too big and can increase the possibility of mould.
The UK market still has a high demand for Greek currants, although the demand is lower than in previous years, as recipes have been adapted to use higher percentages of other dried fruits. Early predictions for Greek provincial currants are at between $2 927 and $3 044 per tonne fob Piraeus. If initial demand is less than predicted, it will cause prices to drop once the crop has been harvested.
Almost 50% of Turkey’s apricot crop has reportedly been harvested, of which a larger percentage will be dried as natural fruit in order to reduce the evidence of hail damage. Unblemished fresh fruit prices have almost doubled since last year, and it is expected that 30% of the fruit will be dried as natural apricots.
Demand and a lack of availability of unblemished sulphured fruit will likely increase the premiums throughout the season. As an example, whole pitted type No. 4 apricots are being quoted as selling for between $3 350 and 3 400/tonne fob Izmir.
The continuing weakness of the Turkish lira against the dollar is providing some relief for prices of dried fruits as producers tend to sell their fruit in US dollars. The weakness of Sterling after continuing political uncertainty in the UK has had the opposite effect, which will increase costs for UK buyers.