The Mintec Benchmark Prices for Turkish sultanas (standard type 9, FOB Turkey) eased slightly in the four-week period to 6th December to $2,515/MT, down 3% m-o-m, after the market previously rallied by approximately $1,000/MT between mid-July and mid-November, on the back of supply concerns. The latest dip follows minimal trading activity and subsequent sell-side pressures, some market sources reported recently. Prices in dollar terms have been weighed down further by the weakening Turkish lira.
In November, the INC (International Nut and Dried Fruit Council) published its revised estimate for Turkey’s 2023/24 dried grape campaign, pegging the size of the crop at 206,000 tonnes, significantly lower than the earlier projection of 310,000 tonnes published in May this year, and a decrease of 36% compared to 2022/23.
In line with the poor harvest, attributed to adverse weather in May and June in Turkey’s key western growing areas, the dried grape industry is anticipating a very tight carry-out scenario in Turkey in the current campaign, imparting a bullish element into prices. “Turkey will not have enough sultanas even with the carry-in. The carry-out will be extremely tight and there might not be enough product to satisfy export demand,” a UK-based trader noted recently.
Some market players peg hopes on weaker demand allowing for some stock build up in Turkey. “We saw a big crop last year in Turkey where 300,000+ tonnes came on the market. As prices go up demand will come down. Buyers are on hold and it is not easy to sign long-term contracts. Demand will fall,“ a European trader said.
Turkey exported 70,829 tonnes of dried grapes between 1st September 2023 and 25th November 2023, a decline of 5% y-o-y (-3,900 tonnes), according to the Aegean Exporters’ Associations (EIB). This is still a relatively robust figure given the soaring market prices; however, it is also likely that export volumes in the early months of the 2023/24 campaign have been primarily driven by older contracts coming through the pipeline, signed at lower prices.
Most market participants recently interviewed by Mintec have noted subdued market conditions. “Most people are staying out of the market or cover short. Sellers do not want to sell cheaper either, there is a bit of stand-off right now. The market has not yet been tested,” a European trader said. “Demand is sporadic. Buyers who operate on spot continuously enquire on prices. Traditional long-term buyers buy bit by bit. People wait for South Africa and Chile to come to the market”, another trader has said.
Demand developments over the next several months are key. Is demand going to weaken at the elevated prices or are the chances for diminishing demand quite unlikely given that food manufacturers and packers have commitments to fulfil? Are we going to see substitution towards other origins or other dried fruit ingredients?
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