The Mintec Benchmark Prices for Turkish hazelnuts, Levant quality 11/13mm, soared 24% in the four weeks to 20th September, to $790/100kg (CFR Northwest Europe) due to supply concerns in Turkey, the largest hazelnut producer.
In May this year, the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) estimated the size of the 2023/24 Turkish hazelnut crop at 810,000 tonnes in-shell basis, a decrease of 2% y-o-y. Later, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry pegged the 2023/24 crop size at 718,000 tonnes, almost 92,000 tonnes below the INC projection. When published, these estimates stirred some debate over the actual size of the crop.
Nonetheless, since the harvest started in Turkey in the second half of August, sources in Turkey have been playing the crop size down.
“There are very few hazelnuts this year. We went to speak to farmers, and they all said that the harvest would be much smaller than last year. We are seeing the effects of global warming, insect damage and in particular, a lack of rainfall during the critical nut development period in May,” Kenan İncirkuş, a trader from Giresun, Turkey, told Mintec in September.
Some market sources peg the harvest as low as 620,000-650,000 tonnes. “The reduction estimate was really surprising. The 650,000 tonnes we are hearing is much lower than what people were expecting. It came at the time when Ferrero was in the market with strong demand, and people were covering,” a UK trader said.
According to Aldo Trisciuoglio, a CEO at Luxemburg-based nut trading company Log2Go, hazelnut production in Turkey will reach an estimated 620,000 tonnes this year, with the crop severely affected by adverse climate conditions during the important phases of maturation. “The crop size is very low compared to the early promising days of the new campaign in April. What is really challenging now is that many contracts on the new crop were made in June and July when prices were around $550/100kg. Now, the risk that these contracts will not be fulfilled is high, causing additional price pressures in the market in the short term in case businesses have to re-enter to cover again.”
For the current campaign, the Turkish Grain Board (TMO) in-shell purchasing prices for hazelnuts have been set at TRY 84/kg for Giresun quality, TRY 82.50/kg for Levant quality, and TRY 80/kg for Sivri quality hazelnuts, a big increase from the previous campaign. However, amid the high prices in the domestic free market, the TMO purchasing activity might be irrelevant this year. To further support the market, the TMO reportedly announced on 25th September that it was pausing any hazelnut sales until December this year.
As prices have risen rapidly in the past few weeks, this might negatively impact the demand. “These prices seem to have no ceiling. People will try to reduce hazelnuts in mixes or might de-list them. If companies need to cover, they will buy more on a spot basis and less forward,” a trader said.