Senior Vice President
The final Almond Board shipment report for the 2017-2018 crop year brings total shipments for the year to 2,251 million lbs, exceeding 2016 crop totals by 150 million lbs and 7%.
Total domestic shipments finished the crop year 8.7% and ~60 million lbs higher than prior year totals. High consumer interest in almonds continues to drive U.S. companies in product innovation feeding further U.S. almond consumption. Export shipments increased 6.4% over the prior year, finishing at 1,516 million lbs shipped.
Two key drivers in total export growth were China and India finishing the year 16% and 19% ahead of prior crop year respectively. These markets contributed most of the 53.9 million lb growth in inshell shipments. Much focus has been given to tariff-induced trade issues in China, yet new crop booking has been active in recent weeks.
New 2018 crop commitments for the month of July were 104 million lbs. Despite a slow start for new crop bookings through May, activity levels for new crop bookings in June and July have been equal to the prior year. The pace on new crop activity since mid-July has accelerated significantly.
As the industry heads into the new 2018-2019 crop year, availability of quality SSR inventory is increasingly tight. An adjustment to the Computed Inventory to less than 340 million lbs is likely as the ABC adjusts the percentage of Loss and Exempt above 2% due to the high insect damage experienced this crop year. Doubles in the 2017 crop further reduce useful carry-in inventory.
The gap in Nonpareil pricing for current crop and new crop has narrowed, reflecting reasonable remaining current inventory and initial new crop supply that will begin appearing by the end of August.
Pollenizer SSR and manufactured products show significantly higher price gaps between current and new crop. The gap reflects short existing supply and new crop availability that will not be fully available until well into October.
Global demand at the consumer level has been strong throughout 2017 crop and will continue strong through the 2018 crop. Trade issues in China and Turkey muddy the outlook, as do 2018 crop quality concerns regarding increased doubles and a possible repeat of high insect damage levels.
Finally, the transactions postponed by both buyers and sellers over the spring & summer months while waiting for direction on tariffs and pricing will make for a busy August and September.