Skipjack, the bellwether of the tuna market, has been steadily rising in price to near historic levels. Typically the new fishing season begins in spring, but not much fish have been landing. Pricing a few months ago was around $1,750/ton for raw material, and the market expected it to bottom out at $1,500/ton. Due to low volume of fish, the market is now expected to hit $1,900/ton this week! We expect prices to continue to rise with no reductions in sight. Shipments are also delayed due to this shortage of raw material.
Tongol is now very high priced but a good alternative is Yellowfin. Typically, Yellowfin is only a couple of dollars lower than Tongol which is why most have gravitated towards Tongol. Now the cost difference is about 10%, and Yellowfin is good looking tuna and looks even better with a bigger price spread.
Albacore has been firm and steady in pricing, but raw material has been tight on the supply side, creating some delays in exports out of producing countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.
A word of caution; be alert to some below market quotes! There is a lot of product being quoted with drained weights below the US FDA minimum, by almost 12%! Caveat Emptor, ‘Let the buyer beware’!
Although the olive trees in Spain have begun the new growing season on a good note, we are still a long way from the harvest, which begins in the fall. The trees require sufficient rain to allow the olives to mature to normal sizing.
The carry over from the last crop, plus the production of the current crop year (2016/2017) make up the total available for the year. Both the carryover and new crop for 2016/2017 were below budget, putting us into a very strong seller’s market due to the short supply. Prices have risen persistently since January and will continue to do so until the beginning of 2018!
Pomace in particular is very short in supply and extra virgin is short as well. The expectation is that as prices advance, sales will slow down which will hopefully allow the limited inventory to last until the new crop. To make matters worse, the value of the US dollar has dropped by about 8.5% in the past 2 months, increasing the cost of oil and all other European imports.
It’s been reported in the media that Peru suffered from major flooding damaging infrastructure and agricultural fields during the month of March and early April.
According to a report published by USDA, “coastal El Niño affected the northern coast of Peru, generating excessive rains, floods and landslides. Coastal El Niños are formed when there is a lack of wind off the coast of Peru. This prevents warmer surface waters from mixing with deeper cool waters and causes higher evaporation, resulting in rain when the clouds formed hit the Andes. Unlike a normal El Niño, a global phenomenon affecting all countries in the Pacific Rim, coastal El Niños only affect Peru. Water temperatures off the coast of Peru have increased over three degrees Celsius above average, but they reach up to 5 degrees Celsius above average on the northern coast, particularly in the Tumbes, Piura and Lambayeque regions. Rains from the coastal El Niño began in early March and are forecast to continue through the first week of April.”
The same report mentions that over 4,400 miles of roads and over 3,500 miles of irrigation canals along the Peruvian central and northern coast got damaged, delaying or hindering the movement of foodstuffs to and from the market.
Our Ambrosia® fire roasted peppers are mostly packed in the North (Lambayeque region) where packers are expecting a short crop in July/August from higher situated areas, away from the coast. The bigger crop grows closer to the coast and those fields have been severely impacted by flooding. Growers will have to wait for the fields to dry and re-plant the seedlings. Unfortunately a large part of the growing area has diminished, fertile soil swept away, so the crop is expected to be shorter and delayed to September/October.
Artichokes are mostly grown south of Lima where the fields haven’t been affected by flooding. However, temperatures have been unusually hot that may affect the quality of the fruit. Artichokes like cool nights and mild days and will be small and open early in high temperatures; thus they won’t be suitable for whole hearts, only for quarters and pieces.
It’s too early to know the exact extent of the damage these floods have caused to the Peruvian agricultural sector, only time will tell.
As reported early January, Chinese Mandarin Orange packers finished production early this year because of a shorter than usual crop and because of labor shortages.
According to our sources, most processors have packed product for firm orders only, and hardly any packer has surplus inventory for future sales, especially in Foodservice can sizes. U.S. importers that didn’t cover their requirements for the entire season are finding out now that the prices are up by about 10%.
We expect the mandarin orange market to remain firm throughout the year.
We have to get used to the “abnormal” being the new “normal” and this applies to the Spanish olive crop again. Whether the unusual crop results may be attributed to extreme weather conditions or to the nature of olives we won’t know; one thing is sure that the 2016 harvest didn’t turn out to be as it had been predicted just a few months before all olives were collected.
We were hearing about a “fantastic” crop from growers and processors until September. Then the reports started changing: first it was the drought over the summer months that seemed to affect the overall tonnage; then it was the rain in October that was supposed to help the yield as the fruit absorbed more water and grew larger. However, as we understood the rain came too late for certain varieties and a lot of the “shriveled” olives didn’t recover. Large size olives grew larger that resulted in a good crop of the Queen (Gordal) variety but the Hojiblanca variety that’s used for both olive oil and ripe olives came in quite short, so did the Manzanilla variety that’s used for green table olives. Given the short crop we can expect the ripe olive market to be quite firm throughout the year.
The growing season of Kalamata olives in Greece is similar to that of the various olive varieties in Spain but the Kalamata olives are left on the tree much longer to ripen; Kalamata olives aren’t going to change color during fermentation and they must reach their desirable purple color on the tree. Just like for Spanish olives, we expected a good crop until about August when we started hearing about the drought in Greece and some fruit fly that caused considerable damage to the crop. Growers were hoping that the yield would improve when rains arrived in the fall but, unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. By the time they finished the harvest in December, they reported an overall shortage of about 30% compared to 2015. There was very little carryover from 2015 and prices started to increase sharply in the New Year.
Kalamata olive processors don’t own Kalamata olive orchards; they buy olives from growers that keep their crop in fermentation tanks until they are ready for further processing and they sell the fruit little by little at prevailing market prices. In other words, they can charge what they want as long as they have a taker; the price is set at the time of the transaction. We understand from our suppliers that right now growers are holding the olives and they are not only quoting much higher prices than last year but they are also anticipating even higher prices later because of the short crop and high demand. Some packers think that the price of Kalamata olives may reach levels this year that we haven’t seen in some 15 years.