Almond Market Update – April 2023
The Almond Board of California released the March 2023 position report:
Shipments were a Record 281.1 million lbs. vs. 244.9 Million lbs. in 2022 – UP 14.7% for the month and bringing YTD to 6.8% UP
U.S. -7.5% (-5.75% YTD)
Exports +24% (+12.4% YTD)
Western Europe -10.6% (+1% YTD)
India +15% (+6% YTD)
Middle East / Africa +103% (+74% YTD)
China / Hong Kong/ Vietnam +219% (+14% YTD)
Japan -28.4% (-19% YTD)
South Korea -14% (-33% YTD)
Canada -11.5% (-8% YTD)
Central / Eastern Europe +51.5% (+19% YTD)
Latin America / Caribbean +35.9% (+3% YTD)
March Shipments – Industry members were once again optimistic, and the figure came in on the high side of expectations again.
March Sales were 143.6 million lbs. vs. 220 million lbs. in March 2022. Low sales were expected as sellers were hesitant, and everyone awaited more clarity on the ’23 crop outlook.
Committed (Unshipped) stood at 647 million lbs., sitting 22% below last year’s 832 million lbs.
Sold / Shipped Combined was 2.45 billion lbs. vs. 2.52 Billion lbs. a year ago – down 2.8%
The Industry Sold Position, using a crop of 2.55 Billion lbs., was 73% of total supply – right in-line with a year ago.
The 2023 almond crop will be remembered for a long time. The extreme cold weather slowed nut development significantly; you can still find the occasional bloom in April! The cold wet bloom severely affected bee activity during critical stages of bloom, reducing pollination as well as fertilization. Now we’re just starting to see more disease and tree death show up from the extreme weather. As temperatures rise, root diseases will show up more. Some orchards were also impacted by hail and/or severe winds blowing trees over. Due to the poor economics, many growers cut back on inputs which exacerbates the challenges from the weather. Some orchards are showing off-yellowish color, likely due to a lack of nutrient pick-up.
Last summer’s extreme hot spells triggered bud failure in Carmel like we’ve never seen before, and we would expect those trees to never be the same. The self-compatible varieties Independence and Shasta seem to be the bright spots in the crop. The Nonpareil overall looks disappointing. Monterey and Fritz look better than most of the pollinators. Too early to comment on Butte/Padre.
Our concerns about low yields are echoed from others throughout the San Joaquin Valley, and parts of the Sacramento Valley.
The extremely cool post bloom weather is pointing toward a very late harvest, perhaps 2 weeks later than last year. Nut sizes could benefit from cool weather and low nut set, however, because the crop is so late, there is risk to the kernel growth period shortening if we get a strong hot spell at the wrong time, such as early June.
Exports are a major record for the third month in a row. China is up over 200% for the 2nd month in a row. The Middle East / North Africa had another huge month. The export markets are responding quicker to the low prices presented to them mid-season.
With another surprisingly strong shipment month, carryout concerns should ease further. Shipments are likely to be lighter in April following several strong shipment months and lighter sales months. May and June were very strong last year, though July was a very light month at only 169M. If we average 10% down from here out (on average including July), we should be looking at a carryout under 700 million lbs., and if we shipped the same as we did to finish out last season, we’d be looking at a carryout under 600 million lbs.
There was more hope and optimism about the crop outlook in mid-March, so we saw more sellers, and pricing came slightly off the recent highs. Over the past couple weeks, sellers have become increasingly pessimistic about the ’23 crop outlook and this brought firmness back to the market.
We think that as it becomes clearer how poor the ’23 crop outlook is, the new crop could trade at a more significant premium to current crop and drive more demand for current inventory.
Let’s not forget that just 3 months or so ago there was talk of 850 million to even 1 billion lb. carryout and the potential of a 3 billion or 3.2 billion lb. crop for 2023. There was talk of 4 billion lb. total supply out of California for next season. Now there’s talk of 3 billion lb. total supply, some talking higher, some lower, but the outlook is immensely different from the numbers getting thrown around not long ago. The last few months have been a reminder of both the unpredictability of Mother Nature’s impact on crop yields, as well as how emerging markets respond to low almond prices.
Dariela Roffe-Rakind from the Almond Board summed it up “Two new studies, funded by the Almond Board of California, demonstrated that a handful of almonds eaten 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner for three months reversed prediabetes to normal blood sugar levels in nearly one-quarter of the people studied – improvements as potent as taking prescription diabetes medication. Diabetes researchers described this reversal from prediabetes to normal blood glucose regulation as “the holy grail of medicine.” For more info please visit: https://www.rpacalmonds.com/healthnews/bloodsugarcontrol2023
Paul Ewing Dennis Soares
April Position Report – Thursday May 11, 2023
NASS Subjective Estimate – Friday May 12, 2023