After years of profitable crops, an oversupply of almonds borne by international tariffs, shipping constraints and enthusiastic planting may be leading the industry to an extended downturn.
The Almond Board of California's position report from January reveals the bleeding. Rabobank's food and agribusiness research arm suggests that the worst may still be on the horizon as export numbers year-over-year have fallen by double-digit percentage points.
David Magana, senior analyst for RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness, says if this year's export numbers don't turn around, the industry could face a record 900-million-pound carry-out at the end of the marketing year. The Almond Board of California uses an Aug. 1- to-July 31 marketing year, which conveniently coincides with the general start of almond harvest.
This portends a lengthy period of poor producer prices as the industry struggles with shipping constraints beyond its control.
The industry is already dealing with a heavy carry-in of 608 million pounds, or roughly 20% of last year's production. A 900-million-pound excess of unsold nuts going into the next marketing year could be as much as one-third of California's annual production. Year-to-date crop receipts are 2.83 billion pounds.
With a 3.35-billion-pound supply of almonds to sell globally this year, the double-digit downfall in shipments does not bode well for the industry, according to David Magana, senior analyst for RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness.
Exports across the Americas are down 15% on average, with shipments to countries like Peru down 75% and Brazil down 67%.
Asia's large and growing markets are likewise down significantly. Shipments to China, Japan and Hong Kong are down 14% as exports to central Asia, including India, down 23%. Exports to Europe were down 26% in January, year-over-year.
Domestic shipments were flat in January.
This news comes on the tails of a 2020/21 marketing year that saw record exports of over two billion pounds of almonds on total shipments of 2.89 billion pounds
Except for last January, monthly almond exports in the 2020/21 marketing year were higher than ever.
August of this year saw record exports of nearly 141 million pounds, or 10.8% above the same month the previous year.