Market update

  • 2 September 2022 Open or Close

    During the past few weeks we saw a quiet spot market, which is normal for this time of the year. Now that summer holidays are over the market should pick up again.

    The current high inflation is troublesome. Extreme weather conditions worldwide have negatively affected harvests and contributed to higher prices of many products. Logistic costs have increased due to staff shortages and lack of transport and storage capacity. The Covid-19 epidemic caused serious disruption to trade flows that has not yet recovered. Containers from Asia travel weeks longer than before and despite sky-high profits, shipping companies try to keep their rates at a high level. Much cargo destined for Russia has ended up in storage elsewhere in Europe because of trade sanctions. In addition, food processors started to hold extra stock in anticipation of a possible supply disruption due to the war in Ukraine. Ultimately the high inflation may cause a lower demand for a wide range of (luxury) goods that might lead to further stockpiling in the near future. Extreme weather conditions worldwide have negatively affected harvests and thus contributed to higher prices of many products.

    Pepper prices (black and white) slowly come down a little.

    The supply situation of Nutmeg, mace and cloves remains tight and we see little room for lower prices.

    The new pimento harvest has started and we anticipate a normal crop size. Current asking prices are still high being at a level in between $ 7,500 and 8,000.00 per m/t CF EMP. During the second half of September and the first half of October the bulk of the Mexican crop will become available and we anticipate somewhat lower prices by then. For the time being we prefer to stay side-lined.

    The market for chilli products will remain tight until early 2023 and prices will probably rise slowly. The 2021/2022 crop in India has been disappointing and there are hardly any IPM goods left. The new India crop will start in December. Chinese new crop material will become available at the end of end 2022.

    Mustard seed prices remain high. We understand that the Ukraine crop is small. We are seeing some lower offers from Russia, but the market acceptance is low for obvious reasons. Canada’s new crop will become available from October onwards, but also their asking prices are still high.

    Prices for aromatic seeds such as cumin, anis, fennel and caraway have good potential to move up somewhat further.

  • 10 August 2022 Open or Close

    There is not too much news to report from the spice front. The price of pepper moves sideways. Prices in Brazil are below those in Vietnam. This has to do with the regulation that exports to Europe require a health certificate for which an inspection in the exporting port is mandatory. The tests are mainly for salmonella. Brazil (still) has little capacity to sterilise and to avoid problems and extra costs in case of rejection, exporters choose to ship their pepper to other destinations. In this way, a lot of black pepper goes to Vietnam where it is further processed before ending up in Europe with a diversion.

    The Guatemala cardamom crop has finished. The new harvest will start in October. Prices have come down sharply over the past year. Expectations for the new harvest look promising and provided there will be no tropical storms prices of new crop material will be around the same level as traded lately.

    The new crop Mexico pimento will start this month. The first quotations that we received are still very high. Normally new crop prices move around USD 3000-3500/t. Due to severe crop damage, prices last year more than doubled. Supposedly the new crop will be normal again we anticipate prices to come down somewhat during September and October. Much will depend on the demand from Eastern Europe where traditionally a lot of pimento is consumed.

    Climate change, rising energy costs, inflation, multiple conflicts around the world and a possible increase in the number of Covid infections in the autumn may strongly influence the supply and demand and thus the price of various products.

  • 20 July 2022 Open or Close

    During last week, Vietnam recorded its lowest price for pepper this year, only to increase again by US$ 200/tonne at the beginning of this week. We understand that offered quantities are limited and demand from China is picking up.

    The € / US$ exchange rate showed a similar movement. After a parity that lasted a few days, a recovery of the euro followed and the rate is now moving around 1.02

    North Africa and Southern Europe are suffering from a heat wave which is accompanied by a severe drought. Crop expectations for produce coming from these regions therefore have to be adjusted downwards.

    Cumin seed prices are slowly increasing. The 2022 harvest in both Syria and Turkey is disappointing. Europe is therefore dependent on IPM quality from India that has a limited availability.

    We learned that the mustard crop in Ukraine will be smaller than normal. Most of the cultivation is taking place in regions occupied by Russian troops. Apart from drought the harvest is hampered by all kinds of warfare and it remains to be seen to whether it will become available for export.  On the other hand the Canadian crop looks promising. Planting has increased and with normal weather conditions a good crop may be expected. There is hardly any carry-over from previous years and new crop prices are high.

  • 6 July 2022 Open or Close

    The market situation has not changed much in the last two weeks. Buyers and sellers remain extremely cautious in a market dominated by economic uncertainty and inflation.

    The war in Ukraine seems to be going on longer and the barbarity with which Russia is operating is appalling. Although foodstuffs are not included in the sanctions packages, the inclination to buy products from Russia has fallen sharply. Restrictions on payments form an additional barrier.

    Pressure on the ECB to raise interest rates further to curb inflation is putting pressure on the € exchange rate. A higher interest rate means higher interest costs which is problematic for countries with a high debt.

    Pepper prices remain somewhat bearish without really going down. Nevertheless, bargaining may help to get attractive prices. The momentum for pepper to end this year on a higher level than last year seems to be slowly ebbing away. Normally the price is mainly dependent on the supply with a more or less stable demand. This year, the lagging demand is the variable with the most influence on the price.

    Cloves prices are firm due to an anticipated small harvest in Indonesia. Nutmeg prices also remain at a high level.

    The Canadian planting of mustard is higher than in previous years and with normal weather conditions we can expect a good harvest. However, there is hardly any carry-over from previous years. Indicative prices for the new harvest are therefore at a high level. Much depends on the new harvest in Ukraine.

  • 21 June 2022 Open or Close

    We see an invariably bearish pepper market following weak global demand. Asia (China) in particular has significantly reduced imports, leading to lower prices for pepper, especially for new crop material from Brazil and Indonesia. 

    The ongoing war in Ukraine, causing an energy and food crisis, and concerns about Covid-19 are contributing to a general feeling of unease and uncertainty. This will not change in the short term. 

    Rising inflation is pushing up interest rates, making buyers even more cautious. 

    In spite of the above we saw the prices of dehydrated onions in India, as well as that of garlic in China, rebound slightly from previous bottom levels.  The outlook for crops competing with grains also have good potential to rise. 

    Following the hike of interest rates by the FED some analysts say the exchange rate of the dollar is on its way to parity with the EURO. That has to be seen, after having briefly tested the resistance of 1.04 the price is now back above 1.05.

  • 7 June 2022 Open or Close

    During May, prices of Vietnam black pepper fell about 8% to recover 3% last week. Still, sentiment remains somewhat bearish. The ongoing war in Ukraine, lockdowns in China, and high inflation have reduced global demand by 40-50,000 m/t so far in 2022. Apart from that, the new pepper crop in Brazil looks promising. We therefore anticipate prices to move sideways within a USD 500 range for the rest of the year.

    During the recent Chinese Covid19-lockdowns, domestic demand for fresh produce such as garlic and ginger also fell significantly, resulting in lower prices. Prices for dehydrated products declined accordingly. Although restrictions are slowly being lifted in China, the situation remains extremely precarious. As long as the zero-tolerance policy is not abandoned, new restrictions will be imposed when the number of new cases increases again.

    Needless to say, the dramatic situation in Ukraine has a huge impact on the global food supply. The rising prices of grain and oilseeds have an indirect effect on the cultivation and prices of other agricultural products.

    In our previous market update, we mentioned that health authorities are paying more attention to microbiology and more often incoming goods are selected for inspection. This time we would like to draw your attention to the new regulation on pyrrolizidine alkaloids, that will come in place July 1, 2022. From then onwards the MRL of the sum of Pyrrolizidine alkaloids is :
    - Cumin 400 μg/kg
    - Basil, thyme and rosemary 400 μg/kg
    - Dried marjoram and oregano 1000 μg/kg

    During May, the euro-dollar rate dropped to a level of 1.035 but recent interest rate hikes announced by the ECB have caused the rate to bounce back to 1.070

  • 4 May 2022 Open or Close

    The global economic and geopolitical situation remains extremely precarious. There seems to be no end in sight to the conflict in the Ukraine, where Russia is increasingly exploiting its important position as a supplier of raw materials. Western Europe is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas as quickly as possible but this process takes time. Higher energy prices will further fuel rising inflation.

    Another very worrisome development is the world food supply situation. Ukraine is a major exporter of grains and seeds. Production and exports are under pressure due to the war operations. The grain harvest in India and Pakistan will be lower due to extreme weather conditions which also applies to the harvest in the US. Prices have risen sharply as a result. Due to these high prices, more (European) farmers will grow grain at the expense of smaller, special more risky crops such as caraway, mustard and poppy seeds.

    Pepper prices move sideways within a small range. So far Vietnamese farmers and exporters manage to keep the price stable. This despite a weak demand in the first 4 months of 2022. Several countries in Central Asia (e.g. Turkey and Pakistan) have experienced a depreciation of their currencies, making imports more expensive. The many lockdowns in China have drastically reduced imports there. This situation looks set to continue for some time.

    Recently, we have seen that health authorities are paying more and more attention to microbiology (presence of salmonella) during inspections. The microbiology of herbs and spices, which have not undergone sterilization or a drying / heat treatment, cannot be fully guaranteed. Depending on the application, we therefore recommend sterilization before usage. The actual use of most herbs and spices is during the cooking phase, when the food is heated anyway. One may therefore question the need to sterilize foods that are heated during cooking anyway. Sterilization is a costly process that requires a lot of (fossil) energy and is therefore not exactly sustainable. Food for thought?

    Attached you may find our price-list. Prices are strictly subject our final confirmation! The US$ exchange rate rose by about 3% during the past weeks and now stands at 1.05 to the EURO

  • 14 April 2022 Open or Close

    During March and the first half of April we witnessed a nervous market with people trying to adapt to the new market conditions and seeking solutions to acute problems.

    • The Ukraine conflict causes tremendous problems for the food supply chain resulting in higher prices for basic commodities like wheat, corn and sunflower-seed (oil).
    • In China, leadership is clinging desperately to the zero tolerance Covid19 strategy with massive lock-downs. This is hindering production and exports of many commodities.
    • Closer to home we still see that many companies are suffering from staff cuts due to corona and from high energy prices.

    Pepper prices move sideways within a narrow range. Availability in 2022 will be sufficient but the expected carry-over at the end of the year once more will be smaller. We therefore anticipate (moderately) higher prices towards to end of the year.

    The current high prices of grain will make more (western European) farmers decide to cultivate it again. This will likely be at the expense of other smaller crops. For that reason we may see higher prices for carraway and poppyseed. Prices for mustard seed already were sky-high due to the Canadian crop failure in 2021. The problems in Ukraine have pushed prices up even further. With Russian troops having retreated from the Kiev region we see some of the mustard-seed exporters back in the market. Delivery times though are still very uncertain.

    Freight rates remain high and the transit time of containers is significantly longer than usual. There is a massive congestion of containers in a number of ports and an accumulation of containers in places with insufficient cargo supply to get them out. Apart from that road transport within Europe is becoming harder with a severe lack of drivers. Managing stocks and ensuring sufficient and timely replacements has become a real challenge.

    The exchange rate of € against the US$ stands little above 1.08 – the lowest we have seen this year.

  • 16 March 2022 Open or Close

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put commodity markets on edge. Ukraine is a major producer of agricultural products (including grain, maize and oilseeds). Not only has Ukraine's export come to a standstill, but because of the war and the sanctions imposed, there is practically nothing coming out of Russia too. This and the very high fuel prices have a strong upward effect on prices.

    Russia has become an aggressive dictatorship and attacking Ukraine has caused enormous human suffering. The entire free world is unanimous in condemning Russia and supporting Ukraine where possible. Let us hope and pray that this war will be over soon.

    Vietnam's new crop pepper is progressing well and about 50 % has been harvested. There is no selling pressure by farmers. Most of them benefited from the high market price of coffee. Prices for the time being are moving sideways. The 2022 Vietnam pepper crop will be approximately 10 % smaller compared to 2021.

    The Indian onion crop is well progressing and prices seem attractive even though higher than in previous years due to the high costs of fuel and transport .

    Chinese garlic prices have dropped by about 10% in the last month and it might be a good time to do some hedging. The Corona pandemic is still in full swing and the omicron variety is causing numbers of infections that China has not seen for a long time, resulting in new lock-downs. Here also the overall supply situation is insecure.

  • 28 February 2022 Open or Close

    Vietnam's new pepper harvest is slowly coming on stream and we are seeing offers at fractionally lower levels. The general expectation is that prices first will come down slightly, only to rebound later to above current levels.

    In an earlier market update, we reported on disappointing crops of cumin, fennel, turmeric and chillies in India. The main chilli growing areas suffered from excessive rainfall and pest attacks. Cumin and fennel growing areas, on the other hand, had to cope with heat and drought, with part of the crop withering in the fields. Prices have risen sharply in a short time, especially for cumin seeds.

    The new onion crop looks good and FOB prices seem good.

    The political situation in East Europe escalated in a very short time with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. Needless to say that we are shocked and deeply sad about this dramatic situation and our thoughts are with the people of the Ukraine. (Again) fake news is used by political leaders to mislead people. Apart from rising prices for energy we also have to be prepared to see (even) higher prices for agricultural goods coming out of eastern Europe.

    The problems in Europe due to Covid-19 seem to fade into the background with the Omicron variety. In China, where attempts have been made to keep the virus out completely, this is not yet the case. In addition, it may take some time before the worldwide container transport has normalised. Freight rates remain high and shipments take longer than before.

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