Weekly Product Updates

W47 Almond Update: USDA's Positive 2023/24 Outlook, California's Challenges, and Spain's Organic Success

Almond Kernel
Published Nov 29, 2023

Global Almond Production and Export Projections for the 2023/24 Season

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service predicts positive trends in global almond production and exports for the 2023/24 season. Projections indicate a 3% year-on-year (YoY) rise in global almond production, reaching 1.5 million metric tons (mmt). Global exports are expected to grow by 5% YoY to 1.1 mmt, with increased shipments to China and India. In addition, the United States (US) is forecasted to increase production by 1%, Australia predicts a substantial 28% rebound, and a 40% production surge in the European Union (EU). China's almond output is forecasted to decrease significantly, while imports are forecasted to surge by 25% YoY. In addition, India's almond imports are expected to rise by 11% YoY, driven in part by the removal of retaliatory tariffs on US almonds.

California Almond Production Hits Third-Highest Record in 2023 Despite Challenges

The USDA's US Fruit and Nut Semi-Annual Outlook Report revealed a 1.5% increase in California almond production for the 2023 season, reaching 1.17 million tons — the third-highest record. Despite record rainfall and disruptions to the harvest, increased acreage and trees per acre have propelled production. Exports are expected to decline by approximately 3 to 4%, continuing a trend from the peak in 2020/21. The report noted falling almond prices and a 65% drop since 2014. Beginning stocks for the 2022/23 season set a record, influencing an expectation of low prices relative to 5 and 10-year averages. India, Spain, Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and China are top export destinations, with India as the largest market.

Almond Acreage in California Sees Consecutive Decline

The Almond Board of California (ABC) reported a consecutive decline in California's total almond acreage, decreasing by approximately 74 thousand acres in 2023, marking two years of reduction. This is the first time such a decline has occurred since at least 1995. Although bearing acres slightly increased to 1.37 million acres, new plantings (non-bearing acreage) dropped significantly from 294 thousand acres in 2022 to 189 thousand acres in 2023. The reduction in total acreage is attributed to fewer new plantings and an increase in orchard removals, with approximately 83 thousand acres removed in 2023. The trend suggests a potential decrease in bearing acreage in 2024. In addition, nearly 41 thousand acres are categorized as stressed or abandoned.

Almonds Lead Growth in Changing the Landscape of Spain’s Organic Agriculture

Spain boasts 2.4 million hectares (ha) of land dedicated to organic production, constituting 10.8% of the Used Agricultural Area (UAA), making it one of the leading organic producers in the EU. From 2011 to 2020, the Spanish agricultural landscape showcased growth in crops like pistachios, avocados, soybeans, and almond trees. Notably, pistachio cultivation has surged by an impressive 1,057.6% to 49,534 ha, making it the most significant growth in this period. Almond trees, growing by 31.2%, now occupy 718,540 ha, securing the fifth spot in surface area. The demand for superfoods and those aligned with healthy consumption trends, such as almonds and pistachios, has fueled their growth. Spanish farmers have adapted to climate change, expanding crops resilient to changing conditions. Andalusia and Castilla y León emerge as prominent regions for cultivation, with 3.6 million ha dedicated to cultivation in Andalusia in 2022, driven by olive trees and vegetables, while Castilla y León leads in cereal production with an 11.5% increase in crop field area in the last decade.

Andalusia Leads Spanish Almond Sector

Furthermore, Andalusia dominates the almond sector in Spain, holding 32% of the surface and contributing to 39% of the country's production. While the Andalusian area has grown by 10% to 38.04 thousand ha, a significant portion, 84%, remains dry land. Granada accounts for 55% of the dry land in Andalusia, and Almería, 30%. Seville leads the irrigated area with 33%, followed by Granada with 32% and Córdoba with 16%. Despite a 13% drop in almond production in Andalusia due to adverse weather conditions, Granada remains the primary producer with 32% of the production, followed by Seville with 25% and Almería with 17%. The main almond types include Commune, Late Flowering, Guara, Marcona, and Largueta.

The 2022/23 marketing season saw concentrated sales between Sep-22 and Dec-23, impacted by spring frosts, drought, and water supply restrictions in the Guadalquivir basin. On the global scale, the US leads with 78% of almond production, followed by Australia at 9% and Spain at 7%. The 2022/23 campaign witnessed a 13% decline in global almond production compared to the previous season. Notably, Spain has increased almond imports by 6% YoY, contributing to the overall growth in the EU's per capita consumption by 31% from 2018 to 2022.

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