Latest estimates of the 2017 crop, point to a total of 15,000 – 16,000mt, compared to more than 19,000mt, for the 2016 crop. There was no carryover from the 2016 crop whereas carryover from 2015 into the 2016 crop was 4,000mt. So total supply at the time of harvest in September this year, was 15,000 – 16,000mt, compared to 23,000mt total, at the same time last year.
The dramatic reduction in supply, has led to an increase in offer prices, exacerbated by the fact that growers are reluctant sellers, as they expect higher prices, by holding out. There are also many traders or “Middle men” on the market, who are seeking to maximise their return.
There had been some speculation that some growers would look to sell quantities of their raw material, by the end of November, on the basis that by doing so, they would qualify for a state subsidy. The reality is that this does not seem to have been the case. Growers qualify for two subsidies, one paid by the Greek Government and one by the EU, the EU being the greater. It is also possible that some growers are also waiting for the new tax year before selling their raw material (the Greek tax year starts on 1st January each year).
Unlike other markets, we do not receive reliable statistical information from the Greek Currants market. There is no official crop estimate, no carry over information from crop to crop and no detailed information regarding export trends. So, we are reliant upon our ongoing dialogue with packers and our own observations during our regular visits.
Such dialogue leads to the conclusion that there will be some new offers of 2017 crop Currants, in the months ahead, but these are likely to be at elevated price levels.
A critical time period will be April, when we see the first indicators of the prospects for the 2018 crop, which will be harvested in August/September 2018. If early indicators are good, then the value of raw material would be likely to stabilise, however, any frost or negative developments during that period, may lead to further rises in the prices of any remaining raw material. Either way, there is no prospect of a fall in offer prices, from present levels.
We feel it likely that the 2017 crop will sell out, well ahead of the arrival of 2018 crop. Therefore, even if the 2018 crop is of higher volume and good quality, it is unlikely that we will see any relief from the prevailing, higher offer prices, until Q1 2019, at the earliest. Any issues with the quality or quantity of the 2018 crop, may bring further untold pressure to the market.
In an attempt to address the issues within the market and protect its future, we drafted a letter to The Greek Minister of Agriculture, which was issues by our Trade Association. We have offered to meet with the Minister, to discuss measures which would stimulate the Greek Currants market in the short, medium and long term. We are presently awaiting their reply.
We will keep you closely informed regarding offer prices and market developments, as the information becomes available.