California raisin prices continue to trend lower, in competition with other origins. There are still plenty of bulk California Thompson raisins available in the Central Valley and attractive prices can be achieved, especially for high volume contracts.
June shipments of California raisins are unknown since the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) has now restricted access to monthly shipment reports. We understand the RAC will be meeting again in August to make further decisions on reports and nothing will be distributed until that time. We suspect shipments have continued to be very slow with purchasing from export markets down significantly. Domestic sales are also down this year. The latest data available from May showed the weakest total shipment month since the current 2018 / 2019 crop began shipping. Export shipments from the current 2018 / 2019 crop of Thompson Natural Seedless raisins from August to May are down a staggering 38% and 47% from 2017 / 2018 and 2016 / 2017, respectively.
Major raisin markets, including Japan, have substituted California raisins for Turkish and other origins. California raisin prices have so far been too high to interest many domestic and export buyers alike. As a result, California packers will be carrying out a substantial volume of the current 2018 crop to the next season.
While we still have some time before the new 2019 California raisin harvest, there are concerns arising due to the wet weather in the Central Valley. Due to higher levels of precipitation, there is more moisture and mildew on the vines. Fungicide programs including spraying sulfur dust powder to quell mite and mildew are key to staying ahead of potential quality problems down the road. If raisin growers do not invest adequately, the product will fail quality tests on the basis of mold and mildew and reconditioning will be required. If such problems are widespread, the total marketable California raisin crop for 2019 may be much lower than expected. To make matters worse, some California raisin growers are expecting a lower field price in the coming year and are cutting back on expenses, including fungicide programs, which are especially essential this year due to the wet weather.
We supply all major bulk California 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.
Almond prices increased substantially after the objective estimate for a 2019 California almond crop of 2.2 billion pounds surprised the industry. Growers and processors are walking the almond orchards to assess crop development in order to substantiate the decrease in production size implied by the objective estimate. We suspect California almond packers will be offering only selectively, if at all, in the coming weeks until they see the initial new crop receipts which will be in mid to late August. However, pollinator varieties, which experienced a more severe decrease in nuts per tree than others, won’t be harvested until September and October. Therefore, the true extent of the smaller almond crop this year will not be known for some time and will likely perpetuate the wait-and-see position of packers with respect to marketing the remainder of the new almond crop.
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.
The California walnut harvest looks to be on track although many packers will wait to offer until they have had time to digest both the subjective estimate, which will be in the next few weeks, and the objective estimate, which is scheduled to be released at the end of August. Most packers will be offering only on a limited basis, if at all, until after these estimates have been made public. We have heard of some business on new crop Chandler in-shell walnuts being offered slightly above the opening prices for last year’s Chandler crop.
At this stage, it is anyone’s guess where the market will ultimately open. There are some pressures for exporters this year with some of the headwinds the same, i.e. China and the ongoing trade war with the U.S., in addition to some new headwinds including India’s 120% tariff on U.S. walnuts this year. Last year there was quite a bit of transportation through Pakistan as a corridor to the Indian markets in order to avoid high Indian tariffs on California walnuts. This year, transshipping via Pakistan may be more difficult due to the suicide bomb attack on a convoy in Kashmir this past February, which is considered one of the worst attacks to happen in the Kashmir region in some time. The potential obstruction of this valuable transport corridor and higher Indian tariffs may adversely impact one of California’s largest markets for walnuts.
There were similar trade-related fears leading into last year’s walnut harvest although these fears turned out to be largely unfounded with California walnut shipments over the past year reaching record highs during a number of months.
With this past year’s shipments in mind, many packers will be approaching the opening of the season this fall with a more measured approach. We expect a number of California’s packers to take a wait-and-see approach as they are likely to be more concerned with getting the right price for their product over fears of not being able to move the crop.
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).
Availability on Whole Sweetened Dried Cranberries (SDCs) continues to be limited. The upcoming meeting of the Cranberry Marketing Committee in August will likely include information to give a more refined sense for the future of the bulk SDC markets. There are still a number of weeks left in the growing season before the harvest happens in September / October. It remains to be seen in the coming weeks if there will be any weather events, such as hail storms, which could adversely affect the crop. Many of the larger packers are well sold these days and expect prices to remain stable through the fall.
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.