Cashew market has been quiet in the last two weeks after reasonable activity during Oct/Nov. After reaching a low of 3.10-3.20 FOB in first half of Oct, price for W320 has moved up to 3.30–3.40 FOB range during November. There has been very little activity during Dec except steady sales to off markets and sporadic buying by some buyers in traditional markets.
During Week 50, the range of offers is W240 from 3.75 to 3.90, W320 from 3.30 to 3.45, W450 from 3.00 to 3.15, SW320 from 3.00 to 3.10, SW360 from 2.80 to 2.90, Butts from 2.50 to 2.55, Splits from 2.20 to 2.35 and Pieces from 1.50 to 1.60 FOB.
Surprisingly – despite a quiet & steady kernel market – the RCN prices have gone up substantially since end of Sep (maybe not very surprising, considering that RCN availability is traditionally low in Nov-Mar period). West African RCN was being traded as low as 750-900 dollars during Sep/Oct. This has gone up to 950-1150 range due to strong demand from small & medium processors in Vietnam for spot cargo to keep factories running till mid Jan. Tanzania RCN which started trading at 1250 dollars (before the auctions started) has gone up to 1400-1425 dollar range. These high prices are at least 10% higher than current kernel prices.
There are some unconfirmed reports that 2014 crops may start early. This would provide relief to the processors as RCN prices would come down to reasonable levels. If the crops are not early, there could be a period when several processors will have to shut down unless kernel prices (and demand) pick up because they cannot keep on buying with such a large disparity. Some processors have already reduced processing in the last few weeks to make their current inventory last longer.
On the kernel buying side, there are no signs of any big increase in demand although all markets are showing some increase from the lows of 2010/11 (caused due to very big price swings). As most buyers in the traditional markets have adequate cover for few months, there does not seem to be any pressure on them to buy despite signs of firmness in the market and possibilities of reduced availability in the first 4-5 months of 2014. They seem to be comfortable buying small volumes for few months requirement. The off markets (which are growing in volume and importance) and the Indian domestic market continue to buy spot / nearbys. This pattern is keeping the market steady in a reasonably narrow range.
Without any adverse crop developments (and in some cases despite bigger crop), prices of all other tree nuts have been firm and have increased in the last year or so. Cashew is probably the only product for which prices have remained very steady for two years – 2012 and 2013. Unless something dramatic happens with the 2014 crops, we can expect the same for 2014 but there is a possibility that prices in the early months due to reduced availability as major portion of the 2014 crop will be available for processing after May.
Another trigger for higher kernel priecs in early 2014 would be buyers in traditional markets coming in to buy in Jan/Feb for first half shipments to replenish their positions on account of good sales in the last quarter of 2013. As availability is expected to be low, they may have to pay higher prices. And if that happens, it could mean a continued firmness in RCN prices when the 2014 crops start. If demand in first quarter is slow, then market (RCN and kernels) will continue sailing in reasonably calm waters.
To sum up, it would be reasonable to expect some firmness in early 2014. Developments in first quarter need to be watched closely to get an idea of what to expect during the main 2014 crop.
Would appreciate your comments, views, forecast…. and interest
Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai – India
Email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com