W37: Almond Update

In W37 in the almond landscape, the Almond Board of California's Aug-23 position report indicates a 7.1% decrease in almond shipments for the first month of the crop year compared to the previous year. The United States (US) demand for almonds saw a 6.2% decrease, while exports dropped by 7.5%. Western Europe saw a 6% increase in demand, while the Middle East and Africa experienced a 30% decrease, and China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam experienced a drop of 42%. Sales in Aug-23 were up by 31% compared to the same month in 2022. Insect damage levels in the crop are at 4.4%, double that of the previous year, raising concerns about crop quality. Harvest timing was delayed due to rain events, impacting the quality of the 2023 crop. Despite these challenges, suppliers are working to meet high demand.

The Union of Farmers and Livestock Unions of Spain is concerned about the increasing import of almonds from the US, which they believe is negatively impacting local Spanish almond production. Imports of almond grains from the US in the second half of 2023 reached 47 thousand tons, valued at over USD 185.40 million (EUR 173 million), with average import prices of USD 3.94 per kilogram (EUR 3.68/kg). This accounts for 80% of Spain's almond imports during the second half of 2023. Despite Spain being the second-largest almond-producing country, there is a significant gap in exports/imports, with nearly 15 thousand tons of imported almond grain. The union also expresses concern that an agreement with China favors the circulation of American almonds to China, potentially harming traditional almond producers in Spain. Low prices and notable imports from California are contributing to the challenges faced by Spanish almond producers.

Furthermore, Valencian almond producers are facing a challenging season as prices have dropped significantly while production costs continue to rise in Spain. The Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-Asaja) warns that prices at origin are well below production costs, with some almond varieties experiencing price decreases of up to 35% compared to the previous year. Despite a 50% decrease in production due to adverse weather conditions, massive imports of almonds from California have flooded the market, driving down prices. The agricultural organizations called on the government to enforce the Food Chain law, aid affected farmers, and address unfair competition from imported almonds.

Lastly, the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations of Spain (COAG) expressed concern over the poor almond harvest in major production areas, with yields decreasing between 30-50% compared to initial expectations. Some farmers are experiencing yields up to 70% lower than the 2022 harvest, which produced less than 200 thousand tons of almonds in-shell. Quality issues stemming from rain in May and June have also contributed to reduced almond quantity and caliber.

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