Almond shipments from California continued at a brisk pace in May, in line with market expectations. The US state shipped 219.41 million pounds of almonds, an increase of 43% year-on-year (y-o-y) and a record for the month of May. This was in line with the market participants surveyed by Mintec ahead of the release who expected the May shipments to come in at between 190-250 million pounds, with the majority predicting a range of 210-230 million pounds.
This is the fourth consecutive month of record shipments since February. On a season-to-date basis (August ’20 – May ’21) the volume of shipments reached 2.45 billion pounds, 21% more than during the same period in the previous season, showing continued solid demand for almonds amid the subdued global pricing.
The Mintec Benchmark Prices of standard 5% almonds (FAS US) were steady in the week to 10th June, at $1.85/lb. On a monthly basis, the benchmark has also been relatively flat, down by less than 1%, and at the same time strengthening only marginally over the course of twelve months. In the first five months of 2021, the benchmark averaged $1.85/lb, the lowest since 2009 when the market dipped to an average of $1.76/lb (Jan ’09 – May ’09).
A big increase in May shipments was noted to export markets, with the volume increasing by 55% y-o-y to 149.5 million pounds, driven by gains to practically all regions. Exports to Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East amounted to 45.9 million pounds, 56.8 million pounds and 21.4 million pounds. This is an increase of 35%, 38% and 118% y-o-y respectively. Domestic shipments totaled 69.9 million pounds in May, 22% more than last year.
Strong shipments are expected to continue in the closing months of 2020/21, given the large volume of commitments (sold but not delivered), which were up by 33% in May at 607.7 million pounds.
As for the 2021/22 new crop commitments, these presently stand at 231.5 million pounds, 7.2% of the forecast 2021 crop. This is 55 million pounds less than at the same time last year (although being the second highest on record), showing some resistance from sellers and buyers to commit at current price levels as the most recent USDA almond forecast failed to provide enough clarity on the size of the upcoming Californian crop. In May, the USDA estimated the 2021/22 Californian almond production at 3.2 billion pounds, up 3% y-o-y, and quite above industry expectations.