U.S. - China Trade War
President Trump’s trade war with China is disrupting exports of U.S. origin dried fruits and nuts. China’s latest round of retaliatory tariffs include higher tariffs on California-grown dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. Chinese customers now facing higher import tariffs will either pay the higher cost or source elsewhere. In either case, this does not bode well for California’s competitive position versus other supplying origins. While next year’s new crops are some time away and trade tensions may ease in the meantime, trade flows will likely continue to be in flux next year as exporters work through the changing tariff environment.
California Natural Thompson Seedless raisins are attractively priced for spot and forward contract orders. The quality of California’s current raisin crop is excellent and pricing is now competitive. While many European buyers already covered with Turkish, South African, and Chilean material, we suspect renewed interest when stocks decline and importers require new shipments. California may figure more prominently as a supplying origin now that California bulk Thompson raisin prices are more appealing.
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 strong Pistachio crop in California this year along with a poor crop in Iran combined with U.S. sanctions on companies doing business with Iran contributed to record pistachio shipments this year. In spite of higher tariffs from China, pistachios shipments to China continued to set records, in part due to the lower tariff on roasted product, which created a useful work-around.
Total shipments of open in-shell pistachios from September 2018 to April 2019 totaled 338 MM lbs, up 69MM lbs or 26% from the prior year period. Top destinations for pistachio shipments included Asia (161 MM lbs / 48%), Europe (120 MM lbs / 36%), the Middle East & Africa (25 MM lbs / 10%), North America (16 MM lbs / 5%) and other locations.
China continued to dominate imports of open in-shell pistachios with 86 MM lbs imported, up 13MM lbs or 18% from the prior year period. China represented 26% of global shipments and 54% of shipments to Asia. Hong Kong also showed robust pistachio tonnage imported. India, a smaller export market for pistachios, showed a big increase of 6 MM lbs or 194%. In Europe, Germany came to the table in a big way: importing 16 MM or 63% more compared to the prior year period.
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.
With some anxiety in the pre-harvest months of 2018 related to concerns about tariffs obstructing major export markets for California walnuts, processors opened with relatively low pricing. These fears did not materialize as global demand for California walnuts was as strong as ever as evidenced by the 14% and 10% shipment increase for in-shell and shelled walnuts, respectively, from September 2018 to April 2019.
Shipments of shelled California walnuts from September to April totaled 337 MM lbs, up 31 MM lbs or 10% compared to the prior year period. The crop from California was bought up quickly -- especially for light Chandler kernel -- this year and now availability is more limited. Total shipments of shelled California walnuts have been quite strong since January. Compared to the prior year, monthly shelled walnut shipments from California this year outpaced last year by 20%, 22%, 28%, and 17% in January, February, March, and April, respectively. Buyers are already eager for the new crop from California which is still a number of months away. In the meantime, lighted sorted pieces (LSP) and other shelled California walnut products are available.
We work with California 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) and Light Sorted Pieces (LSP).
Whole Dried Cranberries continue to be extremely difficult to source. The recent demand from Easter in the U.S. and Europe tightened existing supplies even further. Prices have risen in recent weeks, reflecting the tighter supply situation. There remains good availability of organic Whole and both conventional and organic Sliced Bulk Sweetened Dried Cranberries.
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.