As discussed during the Almond Round Table, at the latest INC Congress, 2021/2022 California crop is estimated at 2.9 billion pounds (1.3 million metric tons), with a carry-out of 900 M lbs. Next seasonu2019s crop is forecasted at 2.8 B lbs. (1.27 M MT) and with projected shipments in the 2.9 B lbs. range, it would result in 800 M lbs. ending stock. Based on a bearing acreage of 1.37 M acres, the USDA NASS July 2022 objective measurement report situates the crop at 2.6 B lbs., down 7% from Mayu2019s subjective forecast. Winter was dry and water levels continued to be below normal, pollination conditions were favorable, some regions experienced frost damage that might have affected the nut set, but the excellent weather in April helped the crop development.
This year, due to shipping challenges, new commitments and sales have taken two to three months longer than expected. Although pricing continues to be at historically attractive levels to incentivize demand, there was a very significant increase in supply over a short term, thus, it might take some time for the demand to offset that supply. According to the Almond Board of California May Position Report (published on June 10, 2022), total shipments year-to-date through May 2022 added up to 2.2 B lbs., down by 10.71% from the same period last season. However, monthly shipments in May amounted to 257.5 M lbs., which represented an increase of 17.38% from last year and the highest shipment month of the crop year. This would be suggesting that shipments are starting to improve.
According to the Almond Board of Australia, the projected crop for 2022 is 138,650 MT, down 4% from the previous estimate of 145,000 MT. Although general kernel quality is expected to be good to fair, the unstable weather (rainfall during harvest and rolling thunderstorms through most of the growing regions) have had an impact on the in-shell quality and on the drying of the late pollinators, Monterrey in particular. Usually, harvest is finished around Easter each year, while this year was still going on by June for the first time in record, mainly due to the weather disruptions, but also because of the global logistics issues, which affected the harvesting equipment availability. The wet weather could result in a further reduction of the saleable product in the months ahead.
The lower in-shell volume will likely impact shipments, particularly to China and India, which are the main in-shell markets. Last year, China represented 40% of Australian exports and 75% of that was in-shell. Likewise, the Indian market represented 20% of the share last year, so the lower in-shell volume this year is expected to impact shipments.
Based on the planted area, a jump of 20,000 MT per year could be expected through the next five years, hitting the 200,000 MT milestone by 2025. However, there are other variables to be considered, such as the drought, which have been affecting the producing region in the last 20 years.
While the Spanish 2022/23 potential crop was initially projected at 144,000 MT, the output is forecasted down at 75,000 MT, also lower compared to the 2021/22 crop, due to a big frost in March and abundant rainfall during pollination.
Planted area continues to grow u2014it increased by around 20% over the last year. Currently, there are over 600,000 hectares planted, from which, 500,000 are already bearing, meaning that in the next few years, 100,000 additional hectares will get into production and supply will continue to grow. Based on the growing acreage, a crop of around 200,000 MT is projected for the year 2030.
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