VEGA News Item

Gathering Nuts in May - 04/05/2010

Prices Soar.  Pickers Scarce

1.  Wholesale prices of nuts have “gone through the roof” and suppliers are warning that retail prices will inevitably follow (The Grocer, 24/04/10).  The average wholesale price has shot up 39% [52 w/e 14 April 2010 Mintec] over the past year, with almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, brazils, pistachio, peanuts and macadamias all experiencing sharp increases as events around the globe conspired to put the squeeze on supply.  Supermarket margins were so high that retailers “had a certain amount of room to absorb increases,” said A.F. Nuts MD Tony Farndell; however, “eventually the prices must hit the shop floor.”

2.  Brazils have suffered particularly: their price has risen 76% from £2,354 /tonne [15 April 2009] to £4,135 [14 April 2010], largely as a result of a government-backed buyer entering the Bolivian market, according to Farndell.  “They are offering the highest prices in the market with ‘a little something extra, later’”, he said.  This had driven the market price up. “It’s like intervention buying, which goes on all over the world, but this is done for strictly political reasons.”  Further, “last year’s Brazil crop had been poor, causing a global shortage that had also pushed prices up,” said the co founder Preet Grewal of Eat Natural.  “That, combined with the weak pound has meant people have had to pay more for their Brazil nuts.”

3.  Brazil prices had been expected to fall as more product became available in the January to April collection season, said Global Trading and Agency (GT and A) but since late February the opposite has happened and raw material prices have been rising every week.  Peanuts have gone up 15% in price over the past year.  Volumes of Chinese peanuts are forecast to be down 11% this season after drought, followed by heavy rains, affected yields.  “Domestic consumption in China has expanded in the past few years, and increased demand is expected to draw in more imports this year said Mintec.  Cashews have gone up 23% in price and GT and A has warned that shipments from Africa had been delayed, so availability could be an issue this month and the next.”

Change in prices of raw nuts.






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4.  Fresh nuts and raisins are becoming increasingly popular as part of “healthy” breakfasts in the style of the Portfolio of Eating Plans.  They can now be bought in supermarkets in economical 1kg bags.  They are useful and are available in smaller sizes for consumption in the home.

5.  It is a pity that home – or at least EU – cultivation of nuts should not be fostered, e.g. of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pinenuts.  VEGA has put buyers in contact with growers of cobnuts in S.E. England but the cost of picking holds back expansion.  PYO is another option but is not very popular amongst the British population.  The countryside needs immigrant labour to do such work, for which Philippinos are popular.  Tree crops and fungi are cultivating that await development for their nitrogen-fixing properties and nutritional values, for which cheap manual labour is necessary.

6.  A report due out later this year from the Food Standards Agency on labelling on allergens may be overcautious because many consumers do not believe them and become unduly complacent.  Hazel Gowland, food adviser for the Anaphylaxis Campaign, said that “while cast-iron guarantees were not possible for manufactures where foods containing nuts and nut-free products were made at the same site, the industry should do more to clarify guidelines” (The Grocer 24/04/10).  Dr Adam Fox, a consultant, said that the ambiguity risked turning a serious health issue into a subject of ridicule…. I am impressed with the work being done to cater for people living with allergies but for sufferers ambiguity is more that just a bugbear; it’s their life.


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