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Cashew market stabilises on some buoyancy

G.K. Nair
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After several weeks of decline, cashew market seems to have stabilised in the last couple of weeks. There were no offers at the very low levels traded in the middle of last week of July. Although there was not much activity during the last week or ten days, offered levels moved up a few cents, according to the trade.

Range of prices offered last week continued to be wide i.e., W240 from $3.55-3.70, W320 from $3.20-3.40, W450 and SW320 from $3.05-3.20, Splits and Butts from $2.20-2.40, Pieces from $1.80-1.95 a kg (fob).

There is some activity in the domestic market but business is being done in small lots and this trend will continue until the stockists have some idea of what demand will be in the peak consumption season which will begin in a few weeks, Mumbai-based dealer, Pankaj N. Sampat, told Business Line. Like the international market, there was a wide range of prices. For example, Splits were traded from $2.60-2.80 and LWP from $2.30-2.50 (fob equivalent). Activity in domestic market in the last few weeks has been unusually slow. There are expectations that activity will pick up in Aug/Sep and this will give indication of whether the consumption in the 2012 will be better than the low level of consumption seen in 2011.

RCN market quiet

Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) traders have stocks in origin as well as India and Vietnam but for the time being, they are not showing interest to sell at the lower levels that shellers are bidding based on the present kernel prices. Traders expect that RCN demand will pick up in Sep/Oct when small shellers will need to buy to keep factories running. They feel that this demand, coupled with an expected pick up in kernel activity, could lead to some increase in RCN prices.

There is no change in the situation in the main kernel importing regions, Pankaj said. Buyers continue to buy in small volumes. The concern about the economic situation in the US and EU which in turn affects the situation across the world prevents them from taking any large forward positions. There is nothing on the horizon which could lead to any big jump in kernel demand or any big shortage in RCN supply.

If the kernel demand does not pick up in Aug/Sep, as expected, shellers will be forced to reduce their prices to move the RCN they have already bought even if they lose money (many shellers have done this in the last few months). Considering these losses and the increase in processing costs over the last 3 years, in all processing countries, they will not want to take the risk of then selling at lower prices for forward positions unless they see a significant decline in RCN prices.

The cashew trade is at a crucial crossroad. Until confidence is built up, stakeholders from shellers to retailers will be reluctant to take long term positions. The uncertainty in the global economic situation will add to this reluctance. Until then, periodic bursts of activity will mean continued volatility.

To sum up, he said, “We expect market to move sideways in the current range for next few months. Due to the high prices paid for RCN in the last two crops and the higher processing costs, we continue to feel that downside is limited (unless something dramatic happens in the financial markets)”. Due to the short term buying pattern, “we do not expect any big jump in prices beyond the current range (unless there is a significant buying interest during Aug/Sep for the next 3-9 months)”, he added.

(This article was published on August 10, 2012)
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