Yesterday the Almond Board released the January position report. California shipped 193.5 million pounds, up 16.7% over last year’s 165.8 million lbs. This is a new record for the month of January, and the fourth month in a row that California has posted a new record. Domestic and Export shipments also set records, with Domestic shipping 60.18 mm lbs, up 5.0% from last years 57.29 mm, and export shipping 133.32 mm lbs, up 22.9% from last year’s 105.51 mm lbs.
China again performed well, taking 8.96 mm lbs compared to last January 3.86 mm lbs. (this being for post CNY demand) and up 12% for the year to 121.29 mm lbs. India shipped pretty much flat to last January at 14.91 mm lbs, and still puts them up 33% on the year at 145.33 mm lbs. Western Europe as a whole also performed well, taking 59.81 mm lbs, up from last Januarys 50.60 mm lbs, and up 10% total on the year at 299.35 mm lbs. The Middle East finally posted positive shipments of 15.23 mm lbs, up from last Januarys 10.98 mm lbs with Turkey leading the way. It seems the reduction in Turkey is having an immediate shape on nearby and likely long-term demand.
Leading up to this report, most everyone in the industry was again expecting large shipments. Overall the report executed expectations, but the receipts may be a surprise to most. The industry added just shy of 35 mm lbs, which is quite low compared to last Januarys 74 mm lbs. This puts total receipts at 2.242 bb lbs, shy of the 2.3+ bb lbs many expecting the crop to final. Today our best inference suggest a crop between 2.25 and 2.3 bb lbs. New sales were also strong at 173 mm lbs., compared to last January at 159 mm lbs. While sales are not a record month they do continue to put shippers well ahead of last year, e.g., today vs last year they have shipped and committed 225 mm lbs ahead.
We are now half way through the marketing year, and have shipped a total of 1.232 bb lbs, up 10.34% from last years 1.116 bb lbs. If the industry matches last years shipments for the remaining six months (which seems feasible), it will ship a total of 2.216 bb lbs. This would be more than the 2017 crop produces after loss/exempt are taken into consideration (likely 3% +), cutting into the already marginal potential carryover we will have going into next year. While this may be too early to discuss potential carry over, it will be on people’s minds going forward. It is not too early to look to February and shipments expectations were strong even at mid-February – we think 165mm lbs plus is likely – maybe more. We seem to be off to a slow but steady sales start we have seen a return of China and India inquiries. Last year sales were no easy task at 143.6 mm lbs as demand started to pick up during and post bloom. At the same time, the five year average is just over 108 million lbs.
Post report the industry is more obviously focused on is bloom. Bloom in southern California has started in the early stages, and in further north is still expected to start more widespread in the next 7-10 days. This is earlier than the ‘norm’, while California has also seen warm temperatures recently, and has a forecast for some warmer days ahead. Some fear this could create a ‘flash bloom’, which typically does not bode well for massive yielding crops but only time will tell. With the acreage today we simply need an average crop to have a record again.
Rainfall and snowfall totals are also still at very low levels on an average, with not much changes expected in the foreseeable future. At this stage, more snow is obviously welcome, but more rain may do more harm than good to the developing bloom.