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US Almond Sales and Commitments still lagging far behind previous seasons

Updated Jan 13, 2022
As of the end of December, the US has shipped and committed 850,000 MT of 2021/22 season almonds. This is 55% of the crop estimate, which is the lowest percentage in 6 years and far below the 5 year average of 60%. Especially export sales are slow compared to previous seasons, due to congested Californian ports. This means that carry-out inventory at the end of the season could possibly be the largest on record, putting downward pressure on prices.

The ABC’s Position reports

The Almond Board of California’s (ABC) main mission is to promote US almonds both domestically and internationally, however, it also gathers and provides industry data. The ABC publishes a monthly almond position report. These position reports contain data on

  • crop receipts,
  • domestic shipments,
  • export shipments,
  • domestic commitments and
  • export commitments

When analyzing data from these reports, the rate at which almonds from the US are being sold, both domestically and for exports, can be compared to previous years. For previous seasons, the total volume of almonds that were received throughout the season is known. For the 2021/22 season receipts are still ongoing, so the USDA’s crop estimate of 1,270,000 MT (2.8 billion lbs) is used in calculations.

Crop receipts

Until the end of December, 94.9% of the crop estimate has been received and reported by handlers (processors). This is in line with the 5 previous seasons, where an average of 95.4% of the final crop receipts was received at the end of December. This indicates that the crop estimate is on target and there will probably not be any changes in future estimates for the 2021/22 crop.

*2021/22 as a percentage of the crop estimate

Source: ABC, USDA

Domestic shipments and commitments

Overall, domestic demand has been increasing year on year, but this season could buck the trend. Domestic shipments until the end of December were 147,500 MT, slightly lower than last year’s 150,467 MT. The record 2020 crop of 3 billion pounds (1.36 million MT) resulted in lower prices, whereas the drought over California for much of 2021 underpinned prices. As a result, domestic shipments of almonds are lagging slightly behind last season.

Fewer almonds have also been committed (but not yet shipped) at the end of December, compared to last year. Domestic commitments were 152,541 MT, compared to 170,303 MT last season. However, it is higher than all other previous seasons.

Source: ABC, USDA

Exports are struggling

Only 56,474 MT of almonds were exported in December, the worst December in 5 years, and keep in mind that this is the second-largest crop on record. From August to December, 334,118 MT were exported, which is lower than 3 out of the last 5 years. Congestions in Californian harbors seem to be one reason behind the lagging exports. The backlog of containers and ships waiting to load and unload in California's harbors is hampering the flow of exports.

Export commitments are more reassuring, from the end of November to the end of December, almond commitments for exports showed a net increase, from 187,905 MT to 215,345 MT. The 5 previous seasons showed a net decrease in commitments from November to December (meaning more almonds were shipped than were newly committed).

Source: ABC, USDA

Large carry over into the next season

At the end of December, 55% of the total crop has been either shipped or committed, which is the lowest percentage in 6 years. This is mainly due to export shipments being slow out of Californian ports. However, demand for almonds remains strong as commitments for exports are on the increase. That being said, when the season ends in July and the 2022 harvest starts, there will most likely still be a record large inventory of almonds. Earlier in the season, drought over California was a major concern. Persistent drought might have already impacted the 2022 almond crop negatively and could justify keeping such a large carry-over inventory. However, the drought is easing slightly and the situation is already better than in November.

Source: ABC, USDA

Source: US Drought Monitor

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