US almond prices hit an 11-month high earlier this week driven by ongoing weather concerns over the coming crop and several successive months of strong shipments.
The Mintec Benchmark Prices for standard 5% almond [Mintec Code: NAL1] were assessed at $1.81/lb on 16th March 2023. This is the highest the Benchmark has been since 14th April 2022 and 36 cents/lb higher than the assessment on 12th January 2023, which was the lowest price since 2003.
A succession of storms and cold weather over bloom, the period during which almond trees are pollinated (typically occurring in mid-February and mid-March), has limited bee hours and led to damage to trees and orchards. One handler stated, “the bees have had so little time to fly, some of them seem to be starving in their hives. I know people say there isn’t a strong correlation between bee hours and yield, but I haven’t seen conditions this bad for this long before, during bloom.”
This sentiment was repeated extensively by Mintec’s industry contacts, with one almond exporter describing the situation as “the worst conditions for bloom I’ve ever seen in the decades I’ve worked in the industry.”
Selling interest remains limited as sellers continued to size up the potential impacts of the storms and poor weather on the coming crop. At the same time, buyers continue to look to lock in supplies in a rising market, pushing prices even higher.
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February US almond shipments hit new record
The February position report, released by the Almond Board of California on 9th March, showed February almond shipments reached 245.74 million pounds (+23% Y-o-Y), a record for the month. The shipment figure comes in 11.53 million pounds above the previous February record seen in 2021.
The figure topped the majority of industry expectations, with most market participants surveyed by Mintec ahead of the release of the report returning figures of 230-240 million pounds.
Crop receipts came in at 2.52 billion pounds by the end of February, down 13% from the same point last season. Market participants expect the final crop receipt figure to come in close to 2.50-2.55 billion pounds, lower than the 2.60 billion seen in the USDA objective estimate, but not by a large enough margin to significantly change the supply/demand balance.
New sales saw 190 million pounds being put on the books, a respectable figure and only 4% below the three-year average. The total industry sold position came in at 68%, flat against last year's figure.
For more information: mintecglobal.com