G K NAIR
Cashew kernel prices have witnessed an unexpected upsurge on global markets, with the average prices scaling new heights.
Even the prices of broken grades, which were stagnant for several months, have moved up sharply. Good demand for the May-to-July shipments has driven the price spurt, and additonally, some buyers were covering some quantity for later positions too, Pankaj Sampat, a Mumbai-based dealer, told BusinessLine.
Prices are in the $5.35 to $5.50 per lb (fob) range for W240, $5.00 to $5.15 for W320, $4.75 to $4.85 for W450, $4.00 to $4.10 for Splits, and $3.40 to $3.50 for Pieces.
“The gradual price increase of 10-20 cents per month since December is causing concern,” Sampat said. The average unit value realised in 2016-17 from Indian exports has risen to ₹625.90 a kg from ₹513.99 a kg in 2015-16.
The expectation that prices would remain in the $4.00-4.25-4.50 range for most of the year has been belied. Beginning the year at $4.40-4.50, prices have been edging up every few weeks, he said.
There was a feeling that the price increase from $4.00-4.20 in July 2016 to $4.90-5.00 in October 2016 would lead to a big drop in demand and a price correction. On the contrary, he said, in the past four months, prices have shot past the previous peak of $5.00/lb seen briefly in October 2016.
Kernel buyers, who were hoping that the prices would soften, were not buying long spreads. Instead, they were covering every few weeks for 2-3 months ahead, but that, in turn, had resulted in persistent demand.RCN prices also soar
Crop failures in the growing areas are pushing up the prices of raw cashew nut (RCN) as well. The Cambodia and Vietnam crop is reportedly poor, and is projected to fall steeply by 35-40 per cent, Sampat said.
And even though the African crops are stable, the kernel yields are lower. And given that logistical issues persist, prices have been going up since the beginning of the season.The Indian crop is by and large steady. It is not much of a factor for kernel exporters here as almost all of it is bought by small regional processors, who cater to the domestic market. The Indian crop is only important when it is short because the small regional processors will then need more imported RCN, which in turn will reduce the availability for exporting processors.
Currently, RCN prices range from $1,900 to $2,200 a tonne cf India/Vietnam, depending on origin, quality and business terms. These levels are about 30 per cent higher than at the same time last year, and about 10 per cent higher than at the beginning of the 2017 season.