Bulk California Thompson raisin prices have remained stable at more competitive levels in recent weeks. Some California raisin buyers have been active while others have been quiet. While there has been a mix of hand-to-mouth buying and longer-term purchasing, on a total industry basis, sales continue to be slow and steady for California’s raisin industry.
Total domestic and export shipments of bulk California Natural Thompson Seedless raisins from August to April in the current year totaled 147K packed tons which is 27% or 55K packed tons behind the prior year period. Domestic and export shipments are down 21% and 39%, respectively. April shipments totaled 16,002 packed tons, relatively in-line with recent months but still quite weak overall compared to prior years. California Thompson raisin exports in April totaled only 4,532 packed tons which is the lowest level in the last 6 months.
Based on our estimates, if the current pace of sales continue, California will return to carry-out levels (un-sold inventory transitioned to the next year) in-line with previous years before the crop failure last year.
With a total estimated supply of California Natural Seedless raisins this year of 335K packed tons, consisting of 75K from carry-in and 260K from production, and total shipments of 118K packed tons from October to April, the industry has approximately 217K of remaining supply based on our estimates. Assuming shipments for the next 5 months -- from May through September -- of 17K per month based on the historical sales pace thus far, California would be on-track to carry-out 132K packed tons of raisins into the next year.
Even at the current historically slow pace of sales, the California raisin industry is unlikely to face especially large or burdensome carry-out levels compared to prior years. To the contrary, the estimated carry-out may be right in-line with historical levels before the crop failure last year.
All told, California has plentiful supplies of excellent quality Natural Thompson Seedless selects. There is also availability of Flame raisins at attractive price levels. We are now negotiating long-term contracts of 1 or more FCL per month as sellers and buyers alike are looking at booking more high-volume business.
We supply all major bulk California, Chilean, and South African raisins including dried-on-the-vine (DOV) and tray-dried Natural Thompson Seedless Selects, Selma Petes, Flames, Goldens, and other varieties in Jumbo, Select, and Midget sizes and welcome your inquiries. We also supply Selma Pete DOV Double-Run Supreme raisins to Japan and elsewhere which are processed twice to achieve exceptionally low stem and capstem counts. We offer multiple packaging options including custom boxes with client branding, supplier branded boxes, and blank unbranded boxes.
The initial subjective forecast for the 2019 California almond crop released on May 10th estimated production of 2.5 billion pounds for the coming year, reflecting an increase of 9.6% or 220 million pounds compared to the prior year.
The 2019 almond crop will be grown on an estimated 1,170,000 bearing acres, the largest ever. So far, the new crop appears to be developing well. Reports of unusual weather (high winds and rain) caused some concerns but overall, California almond growers are optimistic about the 2019 crop. With strong shipments this year and availability decreasing, the transition to the new crop is expected to be tight. Even amid trade tariff issues with some buyers of California almonds -- namely, China and Turkey -- the industry continues to post robust shipments and appears well positioned to move yet another record crop in the coming year.
Our most popular almond varieties are Nonpareil, Independence, Butte/Padre, and Carmel types with the most popular grades of Supreme, Extra, Standard 5%, and more.
Availability of LHP 80% and other light material remains extremely limited from California. Walnut buyers are looking to Chile to cover in-shell walnut requirements. Overall, California is quite well sold -- especially on Chandler -- and California walnut buyers are already eager for the new walnut crop.
We work with California and Chile’s top walnut packers to supply our customers with Jumbo and Jumbo / Large (J/L) in-shell Chandler, Howard, Hartley, Vina, Tulare, Serr and other varieties. We also provide bleached in-shell walnuts in addition to California shelled product including Chandler and non-Chandler Light Halves & Pieces (LHP) 20%, 40%, 80% and higher based on customer requirements. We also supply Combo Halves and Pieces (CHP).
California Pistachio sales continue to be strong with major demand from China showing no signs of slowing despite the ongoing trade war between the two countries. China’s demand for California pistachios has been further buoyed by a smaller Iranian pistachio crop than normal. China’s appetite for Californian Pistachios remains strong despite the previous and currently threatened increases in the tariff rate. Pistachios are popular gifts for holidays such as Chinese New Year and higher prices due to tariffs have so far not been enough to deter Chinese enthusiasm for US pistachios.
China and Hong Kong make up the largest export market for California pistachios. Uncertainty around the trade war and further tariffs may decrease demand for California Pistachios in China, if negotiators are unable to reach a substantive deal.
We supply raw in-shell pistachios and raw pistachio kernels of all sizes, grades and styles. We also supply roasted Extra No. 1 pistachios and welcome your inquiries.
Bulk Sweetened Dried Cranberry (SDC) prices increased in the last month. Demand for cranberries during Easter was active, adding additional pressure to supplies. The availability of Whole Sweetened Dried cranberries continues to be very tight as well as availability for Apple-Juice Infused Whole SDCs.
Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China continue to be a key topic to watch for the cranberry industry. China is a major buyer of bulk SDCs and further tariffs may dampen demand, depending on how the trade discussions unfold. China’s demand for cranberries is so strong that even with the recently increased tariffs on U.S. cranberries, much of their purchasing activity has continued along unabated.
We supply Conventional and Organic Whole or Sliced Sweetened Dried Cranberries (SDCs) packed in bulk cases as well as Organic Apple Juice Sweetened varieties. We also work with quarter inch diced and other diced cranberry products available as per client requirement. In addition, we supply 50 Brix and 65 Brix cranberry concentrate shipped in bulk 55 gallon drums.
Prices have been relatively stable for sunflower kernel, with some suppliers recently offering higher prices. This higher pricing is due to higher freight costs and higher prices for product at origin.
We supply In-shell sunflower as well as hulled sunflower kernel available in premium and industrial grades for all major sizes. Packaging options include 10 KG, 25 lb, and 50 lb bags.