Nuts

Market Insights


November 2023

Almond

The almond harvest concluded late this season, a full month behind a normal harvest schedule. Which means the hullers/shellers will operate until late December. As a result, many varieties have been hard to come by as the previous crop sold out early this year. Each day will improve as we move through crop receipts, working to process as fast as possible. Crop receipts now stand at 1.33 billion pounds received to date, compared to 1.66 billion pounds last year, leading to less product that California can sell and ship in the near term. 

The Almond Board of California released the “October Position Report” on November 10, 2023. Shipments for October were robust at 247 million pounds, marking it the third-strongest October in almond history. This is +15.3% over last October, bringing total shipments year-to-date to +7.25% ahead of last year. Despite the late crop, the industry’s carry-out has served it well. We now rely on the new crop to meet future demand.

October shipments were driven by exports with 190 million pounds shipped, a +27.7% increase over last October. Export shipments year-todate are +10.5% ahead of last year. Meanwhile, domestic sales fell by -13% to 57 million pounds, bringing domestic shipments flat to last year at this time.

New sales for October remained healthy with 251 million pounds sold versus 244 million pounds sold last year, a 3% increase. While new crop offers remain for close-by shipments, buyers are content with hand-to-mouth purchases, keeping packers busy through the holiday season. Total commitments for the new crop stand at 677.5 million pounds, just off -2.5% from last year’s 694.8 million. Export commitments are trending up +11.2%, 405.7 million pounds versus last year’s 364.8 million. Domestic commitments are off -17.65%, 271.7 million pounds versus 329.9 million pounds a year ago. At the end of October, uncommitted inventory was 753.3 million pounds, down -33.6% versus 1.13 billion pounds last year. As receipts continue to arrive, this will soon shift up.

Bullish Trends

  • October sales were very strong with 251 million pounds sold. This should translate into continued strong shipments for the next few months. November shipments are expected to mirror October.
  • With crop receipts down, the market has continued to firm as specific sizes and varieties are currently harder to find. Packers are content with their current sales and shipments they have booked.
  • Pricing remains attractive for buyers, and the combination of this firmness along with strong shipments signals confidence in the almond market.

Bearish Trends

  • Domestic sales and consumption continue to be disappointing. With inflationary pressures continuing on most goods, consumers are spreading their paychecks among staple items. With the U.S. being the largest market for almonds, it will be critical in the months ahead to see growth.
  • Crop receipts are increasing as the industry went from -36% behind in September to -19% for October, and it is possible the crop continues to catch up as hullers/shellers move through the crop. It is still too early to finalize the 2023 crop size.
  • The holiday selling season is behind us domestically, and China is quickly closing for Chinese New Year. We will have to see how demand responds after these events. 

Cashew

In-shells

Auctions in Tanzania continued throughout November and at the time of writing this update, forecast stands at 55% sold position and there’s still another half of the crop to be traded. India had a lower-than-anticipated Diwali demand, hence we may see this market somewhat inactive with spot buying in Tanzania, but they will surely continue to cover their needs as high quality in-shell is a perfect match for local consumption needs.

It remains too early to make a statement on whether how good, bad, or ugly the 2024 NH crops will come out. One noticeable event is the ongoing heavy showers in West Africa, which is not common for this time of the year. This is something we will closely monitor during the next several months.

Availability of good quality in-shell continues to be low for the Asian processors, that’s why we have not seen many changes in the Kernel markets.

Kernels

Demand really picked in EU, which is (according to the latest statistics) up 7% versus last year at the same time. Driven by promotions across all retailers and regions, and with the main celebration season around the corner, growth will mostly likely hit double digits. With that said, China and the Middle East continues to absorb decent interest as well. On the other hand, first signs of U.S. recovery is being noticed with import figures starting to catch up against a very slow first half of the year.

De-stocking continued during November and this made spot pricing absurdly high with significant premiums versus origin prices. This trend was set already in the last few months and knowingly demand during the end of Q4 is always at its peak. This looks like it hasn’t been a good decision by the industry to do.

Unchanged from last month, cashew prices remain favorable, which clarifies the high demand from retailers globally to cover as far as possible into FY24 and even early FY25. The challenge remains availability as the next NH crops (accounting for 85%+ of global crops) is not available before March of 2024 for production and before May of 2024 in destination markets. With in-shell floor pricing unclear as of today, and many further challenges for the processor from cost of production, high interest rates, etc., it looks unlikely that Kernel prices can soften much further in near terms.

Bullish Trends

  • Destination stocks remain extraordinary tight, and there’s hardly any main grades available.
  • Consumption really picked up in several mature markets.
  • Weather in West Africa can change sentiment anytime - one factor to closely watch.

Bearish Trends

  • Tanzania’s impact to global pricing is neglectable thus far.
  • India had a fairly disappointing festive season, and is lacking on last years consumption.
  • Will the consumption continue as retailers discontinue their heavy promotions like in recent months?

Walnut

The walnut market experienced considerable activity in October, seeing substantial crop receipts and positive shipment figures across both domestic and export markets. Despite this, reported commitments continue to fall short of last year’s performance as pricing held firm for most of October. Handlers have initiated pricing adjustments to bolster sales efforts.

Crop receipts for the month reached 689,547 tons, a 2% increase from last October and 11% higher than the 5-year average. This was influenced by delayed earlier varieties coinciding with Chandler crop arrivals. Quality reports continue to point to a healthy crop, with high light percentages, low defects, but slightly less edible meat. With an estimated 90% of the crop received, the industry is likely to exceed the forecasted 760,000 tons. 

October shipments were strong, reaching 82,006 tons, marking an 11.7% increase compared to the same period last year. Notably, exports surged by 14.5% to 
45,923 tons, displaying positive momentum in crucial markets. Despite the 15% tariff in Turkey, shipments there are up 43% year-over-year. Meanwhile, domestic shipments totaled 36,083 tons, up by 8.3% compared to last October.

Reported commitments for the month amounted to 212,221 tons, reflecting a decline of 9.72% compared to the previous year. Similarly, new sales saw a 6.8% decrease, totaling 139,487 tons. The low commitments are likely attributed to the firm pricing seen in October, which caused many buyers to remain sidelined. But now, with prices easing in recent weeks, the hope is that commitments will rise. 

Chile: Chile’s 2023 crop volume is expected to fall below initial forecasts. The crop receipts for 2023 are projected to be approximately 170,000 metric tons, which is a 9% decrease compared to last year’s crop of 187,000 metric tons, and a 12.5% decline from the anticipated 192,000 metric tons for this year. Shipments for the month of October were down 17% versus last year, but shipments are still outperforming by 4% year-to-date. Chile has made significant gains in India (+105% year-to-date), but have underperformed in ME markets (-19% year-to-date). The 2023 crop is now estimated to be 95.1% sold.

China: China’s projected 2023 crop capacity remains flat at 1.4 million metric tons. However, the actual harvest outcome is yet to be determined. Chinese walnut production is primarily driven by smaller farmers, posing challenges in collecting accurate data. Nonetheless, the increase in labor and capital costs mirrors the difficulties faced by the U.S. industry. For their 2022 crop, the projected carry-out is set to rise to 120,000 metric tons, resulting in a forecasted total supply of 1.52 million metric tons for the 2023 crop, signifying a 5% increase of 70,000 metric tons compared to the 2022 crop total supply.

Bullish Trends

  • CA crop quality is the best it has been in years, with excellent color grades.
  • Total shipments are up 11.7% year-over-year and exports are up 7.2% year-over-year.
  • In-shell shipments are up 11.9% year-over-year.

Bearish Trends

  • Commitments are down 9.7% and new sales are down 3% (year-over-year).
  • 2023 crop is coming in larger than estimate and expectations.
  • Abundant supply of alternative competitively priced nuts.

Hazelnut

Supply side

The 2023 crop season is now coming off its peak. The initial crop outlook was much higher of around 800,000 metric tons in Turkey. However, the initial crop flows indicated some concern on crop quality/quantity, and now market estimates vary from 650,000 to 700,000 metric tons. This supply, too, is considered adequate for the demand.

We saw unprecedented price movement upwards during the initial phase of the season, where a speculation of a shorter crop led farmers/traders to hold the supply. Prices have now subsided from over 100 TL/kg in-shells in early October, now to 95 TL/kg in-shells during the end of November. With the TL depreciating against the USD/EUR, prices have come off almost 15% for the buyers.

As mentioned in the last report, Ferrero had offered a price of 95 TL/kg, which has given a support level and stability to the market. Ferrero has sourced aggressively in the last few weeks, and is estimated to have covered more than half its season requirements.

The TMO continues to carry an almost 120,000 metric ton crop, and its future move is also expected to have a significant impact.

Demand side

Some spot buying from buyers to cover their immediate need, and short covering from exporters has prevented the market from correcting any further.

Turkish exports for the season at the end of November stand at 71,000 against 81,000 for the same period last year – lower by almost 12%. We expect demand fundamentals to be tight. We have seen tender volumes drop from previous years of large global buyers.

We continue to see most buyers preferring to cover only their immediate requirements. 

Bullish Trends

  • Farmers/traders continue to hold stocks in expectation of higher prices.
  • The largest buyer is yet to fully cover its demand.
  • Inflation in Turkey remains high, and locals are using hazelnuts as a hedge against rising costs.

Bearish Trends

  • Prices still look inflated, and most buyers prefer to source in smaller lots for the short term.
  • TMO is carrying 120,000 metric tons and is expected to start selling early 2024.
  • High local interest rates (almost 55% now) leading to lower appetite of traders to carry and hold stocks.

Pistachios

The 2023/24 pistachio crop is officially the largest in history, reaching 1.49 billion pounds by the end of October, surpassing the INC’s forecast of 1.1 billion pounds by 35%. This year’s crop is also 69% higher (~605 million pounds) than last year’s crop of 884.1 million pounds. This has resulted in the lowest pistachio prices in over 15 years, providing insights into potential future trends in the pistachio market. 

Shipments for the month of October were very strong reaching 120.3 million pounds, a 41% increase compared to the same period last year. Exports were particularly strong at 99 million pounds, up by 49% from last October, while domestic shipments were 21.2 million pounds, up by 13%. Year-to-date shipments are now up 20% compared to last year. 

While pricing remains attractive and stable, the record crop size is expected to test both consumer demand and buyer infrastructure as the market adjusts to the substantial increase in supply. It’s also worth mentioning that despite increased shipments, there is 69% additional fresh crop inventory in circulation compared to last year, which could lead to future lower prices. 

Bullish Trends

  • Low opening price levels resulted in large sales for the industry.
  • Consumer preferences for pistachios over other nuts.
  • Shipments are up 20% year-over-year.

Bearish Trends

  • Increased shipments are not keeping pace with increased inventory.
  • Competition from other origins also harvesting larger crops.
  • New crop is expected to reach record high of 1.5 billion pounds.

Macadamias

Key developments in major macadamia growing regions:

  • South Africa: There has been unprecedented congestion at the South African ports, which is leading to shipment delays. The extreme weather conditions along with slow turnaround of trucks and equipment breakdowns has further increased this congestion. The November and December shipments from South Africa will most likely reduce due to these congestions, resulting in rollover and a loss of peak period demand. The overall crop size is estimated to be 78,000 metric tons for 2023 against 69,000 metric tons in 2022.
  • Australia: Weather in Australia is quite dry, which is raising concerns for Macadamia farmers for the new crop. Furthermore, the rain outlook for the next few months doesn’t look promising as per the meteorological report. Australian crop is currently at the stage where nuts should be sizing up, but due to the low rain, the size of the nuts may get impacted. With that said, farmers are predicting a lower size and a lower volume for next year’s crop. This year’s crop was already lower than the previous year by 5,000 metric tons (45,000 metric tons in 2023), and early estimate predicts no volume growth (similar volume for 2024).
  • Kenya: Impacts of weather can also be seen with the crop in Kenya, which has started to flow. No significant volume drop or increase is estimated for the new crop. NIS exports remain banned, leading to processors buying NIS only against the Kernel contracts, which are at a good price. 
  • China: Current harvest season is progressing well and farmers are seeing better SKR against last year. SKR is estimated to have increased by 1% this year versus 2022. Price of China NIS has remained stable due to strong demand from domestic market. Lack of NIS from other regions has also kept the NIS price firm. The government continues to project 56,000 metric tons for this year’s crop.

Demand: Good demand is seen across all major markets except the U.S.. China, Taiwan, and EU are some of the most active markets covering for their Christmas and New Year demand. Both NIS and Kernel prices have seen improvements over the last few months. Enquiries for other grades like S1 and S4 has also started from customers mainly in the South East Asian markets. Next year’s pricing for Macadamia’s will depend on how the demand from China and EU continues going forward throughout February. 

Peanuts

United States

Harvest is near completion. USDA’s November report lowered their estimated yield to 3,740 pounds/acre, bringing their estimated production down to 2.992 million farmer stock tons. This is more in line with what most have been predicting, but with harvest pretty much at completion and Federal State reporting only 2,613,885 graded as of November 22nd, the final production number could certainly be even lower. Also, with this crop, we are seeing aflatoxin from some areas, as well as seg 2’s & 3’s (21,272 tons graded so far, of which 20,173 tons are runners). These issues will even further reduce the edible product available. U.S. demand continues to hold up fairly well in the 3 million ton range. Though we have an estimated ~1.016 million ton 2022 crop carry-out and production below 3 million, especially with quality issues, this could definitely create a very tightly supplied market as we move forward. 

Activity in the U.S. kernel market for the 2023 crop has been very quiet over the past week, with the Thanksgiving holiday just behind us. Some buyers are still looking to add a layer for first half of next year, though most shellers remain comfortable in their current position, and are not eager to offer. Offers for prompt or nearby positions are extremely limited, with some materials unavailable. Blanching slots remain extremely tight into Q1 of 2024, and offers are limited to non-existent through the end of this year. Kernel prices have held strong in the upper $0.60’s.

Possible Bullish Trends

  • The quality issues with the U.S. crop and overall lower yield and production.
  • Strong demand - both domestic and export.
  • A possible surge in 2024 crop cotton futures, which would put upward pressure on the price paid for peanut acres.

Possible Bearish Trends

  • 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.
  • US demand - Current usage, particularly in the snack and candy segments, seems to be trending down slightly.
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