The cashew market continued to witness a declining trend, which had started at the end of May last, with prices moving down a few cents a pound an lb last week.

Prices continued to be in a wide range — W240 from $3.60 to $3.80, W320 from $3.20 to $3.40, W450 & SW320 from $3.10 to $3.25, Splits from $2.30 to $2.40, Pieces from $1.85 to $2.00/ lb .

There were trades at both ends of the range but volume traded was small and limited mainly to W240 & W320. Other grades were more or less neglected. Indian domestic market was also very quiet, Mr Pankaj Sampat a Mumbai-based dealer told Business Line.

In the last six weeks, prices have come down by about 15 per cent from a peak of $3.85/lb to an average of $3.30 (range of $3.20-3.40) now. Fair volume was traded in the decline from $3.85 to $3.55, but the volume traded in the last three weeks has been significantly smaller.

Limited interest

Some buyers are showing interest to buy at the low end of the current range till end of the year and into next year as well, but selling interest is limited, he said. Most processors are reluctant to sell at lower levels as they have bought Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) at higher prices and are hoping for some increase in kernel prices during Jul/Aug.

A full-year analysis for the last five years has established that cashew prices do not follow historical trends, i.e., the lows and highs of each year happen in different months and movements during the year do not necessarily reflect lower prices before or during harvesting of the main crops. But one thing common in each of the year was that the price at end of the year was higher than (or at least equal to) the price at the beginning (except for 2008 when the prices crashed through the floor on account of the financial crisis in the third quarter).

Bulk shipment to go on

Although there is very little activity in the RCN market, prices came down a bit — Ivory Coast (IVC) is at around $ 900 a tonne, Benin is at around $1,050 a tonne and Guinea Bissau is at around $ 1,250 a tonne. As mentioned earlier, bulk shipments from West Africa will continue till September like last year and much unlike the previous years, the trade sources said.

Since 2012 supply side factors are well known by now, Mr Pankaj said, the price trend for rest of the year will depend on demand side pulls and to a great extent on what happens in the US/EU financial markets as that will affect the sentiment of the importers, roasters and retailers towards medium-term procurement, inventory and sales plans.

“In this context, it will be interesting to see whether the phenomena of the last five years, i.e., September higher than April and December higher than January will be repeated in 2012.”

(This article was published on July 16, 2012)
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