Market Report May 2020
The market in general May 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic is dominating the situation worldwide. Whilst countries in Europe are beginning to ease the lockdown but still follow the principal of social distancing, the pandemic is rampant unchanged in many of the countries of origin. Restrictions there are severely impacting production and the exportation of goods. It remains to be seen to what extent the coming season will be affected, both in terms of cultivation of fields but also the harvest later. A close cooperation and good understanding between all parties along the supply chain remains essential.
Market infos and recommendations
Recovering from a ten year low in November/December, prices rallied only briefly as good catches and weak demand from Ecuador turned the market downwards again. Whilst tuna in retail pack is in strong demand worldwide, factories in Ecuador are forced to work at minimal capacity only due to the pandemic. Consequently, the price for skipjack dropped to USD 1.100/t in Manta, whereas Bangkok, less affected by corona restrictions, is still paying USD 1,400/t. The market should remain favourable in the coming months due to the drastic reduction of the price of fuel being a major cost factor of the fishing vessels. MSC-certified fish will soon also be available from new fishing areas in the north of Papua New Guinea. Demand for MSC tuna is continuing to grow worldwide.
The situation in Thailand, being the world’s dominant supplier of canned pineapple, continues to be depressing. Currently, factories are working at only about 30% of capacity, even though we are still in season. Only 260,000 t of pineapple were harvested during the first quarter of 2020 whereas it was 380,000 t in the same period in 2019 and 512,000 t in 2018 respectively. Factories will be finishing the summer season about two months early already in June. The cycle, amplified by drought, will continue with no recovery in sight for the winter crop starting in October. Pineapple will remain scarce and dear well into next year. Indonesia, the Philippines and Kenia are unable to compensate for this deficit and are simply following the market, carrying full order books well into the future. Please secure supply long-term and coordinate your requirements with us now!
Spain and Portugal have been a logistical challenge due to the Covid-19 restriction and additionally recent strikes in the ports of Lisbon and Setúbal. We managed to get through quite well, also thanks to our strong stock position at our Bremen warehouse. Planting in the important growing area of Extremadura and likewise across the border in Portugal has been severely affected and delayed by strong and continuous rainfall. The crop season in these parts is thus shortened by at least three weeks and final results will much depend on the weather in September. Growers and processors in Italy agreed on the price for fresh tomatoes at EUR 88/t, just EUR 1 above last year. First offers for the new crop are just coming in, reflecting the difficult start of the season. Prices offered are about 5 – 10% above the current level for last year’s crop, continuing the gradual increase in the recent past. We are following the situation now very closely and would ask you to liaise with us now. The EU quota allowing for duty free importation of prepared tomato products from Turkey will be used up already next month, thus before tomato products from this year will be available from Turkey. This also applies to sun-dried tomatoes as well as semi-dried frozen tomatoes, for which an EU duty of 14.4% will be applied for imports until the end of the year.
Harvesting was delayed in China for about two weeks due to cold weather, and thus the total output will not be according to plan as the season will have to end late June as usual. Factories are working at full capacity also thanks to seasonal workers from Fujian, who were allowed to travel to Shandong as is traditionally the case despite Covid-19 restrictions. Farmers are now almost exclusively growing a variety producing a large calibre of spares following the demand of the dominant Spanish market. As a consequence, asparagus cuts for which smaller diameters are preferred are very scarce. The price of cuts up to 18 mm has risen substantially, cuts of 6 – 14 mm are almost impossible to find. The volume coming from Peru remains very limited, even though now the export of fresh asparagus has collapsed due to the pandemic and more raw material is available for processing into jars and cans. IQF asparagus cuts are still available at a reasonable price level from China. Please urgently check your demand for the next twelve months.
The growing areas in Thailand are still suffering from drought, new fields will hopefully provide some better results in July/August. Fortunately, we were able to switch to alternative sources early and are well stocked. In contrast, baby corn continues to be available from Thailand and also Vietnam is offering a good volume, however of a different variety with a slightly squat shape but similar count.
Covid-19 continues to spread in Turkey and all forecasts for the coming crop season stand under this shadow. At the same time, the Turkish Lira is continuing to lose value, recently at an accelerated speed. Cost of imported goods are going up accordingly and the inflation rate is likely to move up again. With all that uncertainty, processors are trying to hedge risks by raising their prices in EUR or USD. However, this is unlikely to succeed and their expectations will ave to be more moderate as we come closer to the harvest season. We are following developments very closely with our office in Izmir and are in constant exchange with our supplying partners there. South Africa reported good yields for the harvest of cherry peppers for which processing could fortunately be finished just before the Corona crisis. We also managed to ship in time and are well stocked.
The lockdown in Sri Lanka has amplified the trend which was noticeable before. The market has moved up and import restrictions in Sri Lanka for palm oil resulting in strong demand for local coconut oil are giving prices an extra push. The availability of coconut milk of organic quality is quite limited, prices are going up.
Whereas India remains locked down in many areas, food factories are working, however, at low capacity. Exports are hampered by problems in logistics and especially export documentation, which is also affecting shipments of mango pulp. The new crop will be starting shortly and seems not to be in danger despite restrictions also affecting the orchards. Price indications for the new crop show sideways.
Due to the very rigid lockdowns in Algeria, factories work at a minimum capacity there, whereas they had to be totally shut in Tunisia until the end of May. Delays are severe as more time is needed after ordering for processing before shipment (pitting, sorting, packaging). We do have some stock of Deglet Nour and also Medjool available for prompt delivery, both also available from certified organic cultivation.
Peru has been hit hard by Covid-19 and the government declared a state of emergency – domestic quarantine, curfew, the military is patrolling the streets. Food production is exempted from some of the restrictions, but the overall situation is causing difficulties for the quinoa harvest starting now. Expectations for the crop itself, lasting until the end of June, are quite positive, however, transportation to the processing facilities along the coast is hard to find and extremely expensive. Under the special circumstances local demand has risen for Quinoa, being a staple food in Peru. Due to these uncertainties and regional circumstances, prices differ substantially between suppliers. Our partners are well positioned and we are currently still able to offer close to last year’s level. There is also an alternative variety available which is of European origin and we would be happy to give further advice and provide samples.
Harvesting and processing in Peru is moving ahead as planned despite all Corona related hazards. This is now high season for avocado in Peru, prices are favourable and we do recommend to contract long-term now. Our frozen avocado pulp is processed under the HPP method (high pressure processing), which allows for very good homogeneity, good colour stability and low microbiological values. We also provide IQF slices and IQF dices.
IQF spring onions:
The spring crop in China is underway and all is working smoothly similar to before the Corona crisis. First containers are underway already and will be arriving this end early June. Prices are at last year’s level. We are sourcing exclusively from the spring crop, avoiding products from the autumn crop which have proven to be risky with regard to pesticide/herbicide residues. Each lot imported by us has been thoroughly analysed by an Eurofins lab.
Stocks from the 2019 crop are still quite substantial and expectations for the new crop, starting in June, are high as well. Prices should be softening accordingly, both for dehydrated but also for IQF garlic. First offers should be available by the end of this month.
The flow of raw material from the sesame growing countries - Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, India - has been suffering severely due to Corona lockdowns. Prices are going up, finished product is still available but quite limited.
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