Nuts Market & Crop Update - Global


April 2024

Almonds

April continued to bring plenty of rain to the growing regions and snow to the Sierra Mountains. There will be plenty of water for the growers as minimal irrigation has been needed until now. Most of the growing regions show rested and healthy orchards throughout the state. Having said that, two industry pundits have announced their new crop estimates for the 2024/2025 crop between 2.79 to 2.97 billion pounds. 

March shipments reported in April were at 237 million pounds, down -15.7% from last year, but consistent with industry expectations. Crop receipts are topping out now - currently at 2.437 billion pounds, which is lower than last year at this time by -4.07% and well off from last year’s 2.54 billion pounds and the estimated 2.6 billion pounds for this year. This is the third crop year of declining almond production in California, but it appears there will be a turnaround for this crop year! Land IQ also released the Estimated Acreage Report of 1.373 million acres to be harvested this year. Many believe this does not account for abandon acreage and trees yet to be pulled. Regardless, it marks the first time that we are seeing less acreage on the horizon for the 
future of almond production. 

To date, the industry has shipped 1.838 billion pounds and stands ahead of last year’s shipments by +2.25% year-to-date. Domestic shipments in March were a disappointing 62.45 million pounds, down 6% versus last year’s 66.44 million pounds. Domestic shipments remain slightly down versus last year’s crop, being down .97% year-over-year. Export shipments did not help as March 2024 was going up against last year’s March (the largest March historically), with 174.59 million pounds, which was down -18.7% versus last year’s 214.63 million pounds. 

Meanwhile, sales and commitments reflect a market working hand-to-mouth. Total sales for the month were 181.67 million pounds, up 26.5% versus last year’s sales of 143.60 million pounds. Despite being the lowest sales month of the year, the industry managed to surpass last year’s number. With bloom having just finished at the beginning of March, customers and sellers came back into the market to help prop up the market once again. On the other 
hand, commitments stand at 575.5 million pounds, off by 11% from last year. With the bloom over with and growers and buyers motivated once again, April should help propel more sales.

With a smaller crop this year, uncommitted inventory is also down to 774.5 million pounds,compared to last year’s 881 million pounds. This leaves less available inventory remaining for the rest of the current crop year. Now is an excellent time to close all your needs for the rest of the crop year. 

Bullish Trends:

  • The market remains committed to marketing almonds aggressively and is more willing now to sell further out than at any time this season.
  • The carry-out is on pace to be below 550 million pounds. This is better than what we have seen in several years now.
  • Shipments have continued to be adequate to crop size and currently remain ahead in shipments to last year by 2.25%, overall.  

Bearish Trends:

  • With a good bloom now and early forecasts near 3 billion pounds, it is time to get busy to avoid supply exceeding demand once again. Already, the market has reacted with 
    weakening prices on the current crop.
  • With commitments having dropped and being behind last year, the industry will need to continue to sell aggressively.
  • We have seen market prices drop recently, making some buyers cautious in locking in their remaining needs.

Cashews

In-shells:

  • All main cashew growing areas across the Northern Hemisphere continue to have lower crop arrivals at the farm level. The second flush comes in much lower than earlier expectations, and based on recent data, there’s a possibility that we may end up with an overall crop shortfall for the first time in several years.
  • News about a crop shortfall started to spread fast throughout the entire supply chain, which resulted in a strong increase of in-shell prices in the last few days between 100-150 $/mt across growing regions. India is eager to further cover their in-shell needs from Africa as they are not self-sufficient enough to cater their domestic consumption with their local crops. Vietnam processors are noticing local crop out-turns coming off faster than usual, which is the first indicator of a reduced crop size and lower overall quality.
  • The Ivory Coast, which has been the largest contributor from an African in-shell perspective, has kept adjusting its final crop size downwards in recent weeks. A shortfall in the Ivory Coast can have a massive impact on global in-shell availability.

Kernels:

  • Vietnam processors are yet to cover in-shells for their processing requirements and are currently not eager to offer far-forward Kernel positions.
  • Kernel prices have moved up about 10% within two weeks across all main grades. High interest costs, ongoing arrival disruptions due to the earlier Red Sea hassle, and port congestions (especially in the U.S. region) are some of the other challenging factors for the sector. We are most likely going to see destination markets continue to operate on a hand-to-mouth basis.
  • Kernel pricing has been trading for multiple seasons at disparity and so far, processors have been able to manage this in a certain form and manner. With today’s in-shell prices moving up quickly, we already noticed a strong upward correction in Kernel prices. Furthermore, destination markets operating from the short side have become quite active as they try to pre-pone forward contracts. Now, availability is signaling to be a concern for the remaining part of the season as we will likely see destination markets as the key drivers of Kernel pricing for the future months ahead. 

Bullish Trends:

  • Limited Kernel availability on main grades, in destination markets, and in processing regions.
  • Second flush RCN arrivals and out-turn remain poor.
  • Both processors and destination markets are operating from the short side.

Bearish Trends:

  • Demand in China remains below expectations.
  • Could the second flush still reduce the overall shortage across growing regions?
  • If supply and demand somehow find their balance, prices may not increase from what it has reached currently.

Hazelnuts

Supply side:

  • The current season is now nearing its close. We expect significant stocks to still be in Turkey - almost 375,000, of which 120,000 are in the hands of the TMO. The TMO has announced a selling price of 124 TL/kg for last year’s inventory, but no takers at these levels (around 7,75 $/kg).
  • The Exporter’s Association has announced a subjective crop estimate of 805,000 for the 2023-2024 crop. The weather has been generally conducive. The talk of the town has been of the stink bug infestation, but we do not see any visible signs of damage, yet.
  • Ferrero has finished sourcing its season requirement and has supported the market in April - but now has stepped out.
  • The prices have come off the peaks of $ 8,50/kg in March and now are lower than $ 7,50/kg. We expect a further correction as demand remains weak and supply is adequate to cover the demand.

Demand side:

  • We continue to see most buyers preferring to cover only their immediate requirements due to high prices.
  • Most buyers have covered their Q3 demand and as prices come off, they will be scouting for longer-term requirements.
  • Turkish exports for the season as of the end of January stand at 205,000 against 215,000 for the same period last year - lower by almost 5%. We expect demand fundamentals to be tight with inflation woes and other ingredient prices like Cocoa at an all-time high.

Outlook on pricing: Prices have slowly cooled off from its peak owing to good supply and weak demand. The largest buyer has now covered its entire season requirement. We do not see any other large buyers uncovered. The 2023/2024 crop news has been encouraging and is expected to calm the market nerves further.

Bullish Trends:

  • Some news of stink bugs affecting the new crop is leading to speculations.
  • Europe continues to cover for its spot demands.
  • Many traders continue to hold inventory as they’re trying to limit supply and boost prices.

Bearish Trends:

  • High local interest rates (almost 60% now) lead to a lower appetite of traders to carry and hold stocks.
  • No takers for TMO stocks - indicating reluctance of the entire market to cover at current levels.
  • Prices look inflated, and most buyers prefer to source in smaller lots for the short term.

Pistachios

Pistachio crop receipts remained the same as reported at 1.49 billion pounds, exceeding the INC’s forecast by 35% and marking a 69% increase from last year’s crop of 884.1 million pounds. This harvest stands as California’s largest crop yet, surpassing the previous record set in 2021 of 1.16 billion pounds. 

March shipments continued this year’s strong momentum with 110 million pounds, plus a year-over-year increase of +55.8%. The key driver for the increase in shipment numbers have been exports, which recorded a year-over-year increase of +76.7%. Predominantly, shipments to the EU have a year-over-year increase of +83.6% and shipments to China have an even larger year-over-year increase of +153.9% - both markets are the main drivers for exports. Furthermore, only 32% of the inventory is remaining to be shipped.

While the export shipment trend is phenomenal, domestic shipments are sluggish with a year-over-year increase of only +1.3%. Relatively, despite favorable conditions of low prices and good supply, there’s still a weak momentum in domestic shipments.

Pricing remains firm for in-shell pistachios given the low inventory position. Early estimates put the new crop in the range of around 1 to 1.3 million pounds. With an early Diwali and Lunar New Year, any delay in harvest makes it tight to service the festive demand from the new drop, which in turn, can prompt firm pricing for in-shells. 

Bullish Trends:

  • Only 32% of inventory is remaining which offers short-term price support.
  • Expected carry-out levels are low and coupled with a new crop estimate of 1 to 1.3 million pounds, this will lead to lower total availability compared to the current crop. This 
    could offer long-term price support.
  • Preference for pistachios amongst other nuts.

Bearish Trends:

  • Resell material has become regularly available at the destination markets at discounted prices from origin.
  • The price of competing nuts remains low versus pistachios.
  • The volume coming out of non-bearing acreage can skew the crop size towards the higher side of the estimate, which if actualized, can soften pricing from the expected level.

Macadamias

Key developments in major macadamia growing regions:

  • South Africa: Despite a 2-3 week delay in harvesting compared to last year, growers remain optimistic about this year’s projected crop of 90,000 metric tons. China has increased its in-shell contracts with big and medium growers, leading to a recent surge in in-shell prices. Medium-scale processors are holding off on forward contracts until they secure sufficient NIS, resulting in lower Kernel offers in the short term.
  • Australia: Heavy rainfall in early April caused delays in harvesting throughout the growing areas. The crop is still forecasted at 56,000 metric tons in-shell, surpassing last year’s 48,400 metric tons. Currently, NIS offers are low as most of the volume has been contracted, and the prices being offered now are higher compared to previous levels.
  • Kenya: Local processors are still finding it hard to collect in-shell nuts from the farmers, leading to higher costs for purchasing NIS. Kernel prices have increased in the past week due to this, while availability remains low.

Outlook on Pricing: Macadamia prices have continued to gain strength over the last few weeks for both in-shell and Kernels. Strong demand from the U.S., China, and EU, low carry forward stock, and limited Kernel availability due to higher in-shell volumes contracted by China, may cause prices to further increase in the coming months.

Bullish Trends:

  • Growing demand - demand for macadamia’s has increased, mainly driven by snacking and ingredient segments.
  • El Niño could spell disaster if high temperatures persist during low rainfall throughout the season. 

Bearish Trends:

  • Crop expansion - the global macadamia crop is expected to increase by 12% in 2024. However, the demand should also grow at a similar trend to keep up this price level.
  • A high price of macadamia’s will lead to substitution for other lower-priced nuts. 

Peanuts

United States: 2023 crop production falling shy of 3 million farmer-stock tons, especially with quality issues (close to 29,000 tons are Seg 2/3), has created a very tightly supplied market. This will make for an interesting transition to the 2024 crop in the fall. If there are any delays in plantings this spring or harvest in the fall, inventory for some could be short going into Q4. 2024 crop plantings are just beginning, but so far this spring, the SE (where the majority of peanuts are grown) has seen cool temps, which can keep the soil temperature below optimal level for germination. Furthermore, an abundance of rain (if continued), can keep growers from being able to get into the fields to prep and plant. 

For the summer and fall, we will be watching the weather. It is predicted that conditions will be optimal for potential record-breaking activity this hurricane season (June-November). Tropical activity is good to bring necessary rains to most regions during the growing season, but bad if storms stay in the Atlantic, which dries out the growing regions. Too much activity in the fall, during harvest, can prevent growers from getting their crops out of the fields on time. 

Demand for U.S. peanuts continues to hold stable in the 3 million ton range, in part due to increased exports. The USDA published their 2024 Crop Planting Intentions Report on March 28th, which predicted acres to be flat compared to last year (up about .05%). History has proven that there can be substantial swings either way in what this early report shows versus what is actually planted. Experts have estimated a 3-6% increase in acres, which is needed (especially if there are yield issues again) to get the U.S. back to a comfortable supply. It will be another couple of months before we have a more accurate picture of the actual acres planted. 

Activity in the U.S. kernel market has slowed down a bit, but remains alive, with interest in both 2024 and 2025 calendar coverage. Kernel prices for the 2023 crop are holding firm in the upper $0.60’s, experiencing upward pressure as inventory gets tighter and tighter. Offers for prompt or nearby positions are extremely limited to not available. Kernel prices for the 2024 crop are in the upper $0.50’s to low $0.60’s, depending on specification. 

Possible Bullish Factors:

  • 2024 crop - If weather throughout the growing and harvest seasons is less than optimal, and/or yields continue to be low, we could see another short and/or bad quality crop. 
    This would keep prices elevated.
  • Strong demand - both domestic and export.

Possible Bearish Factors:

  • U.S. demand - current usage, particularly in the snack and candy segments, seems to be trending down slightly.
  • If cotton futures remain weak, we could see a substantial increase in planted peanut acres for 2024, which mixed with good yields and quality, could result in lower prices. 
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