Currency update

GBP has demonstrated strength over the last few weeks as the Bank of England (BoE) is expected to hold interest rates at their current level for a longer period.

The surprisingly upbeat UK Retail Sales data mid-month indicated that the impact of higher interest rates by the BoE on consumer spending is fading. This indicates that the UK economy would come out of the technical recession sooner than previously thought. The UK economy entered a technical recession in the second half of 2023 as the BoE maintained interest rates higher to tame high inflation, which impacted consumer spending and business operations significantly.

EU sentiment weakened mid month, the reason was considered to be businesses struggling with the high rates of inflation, rising borrowing costs and a decrease in export demand.

The US calendar looks unlikely to have much of an impact in the coming weeks. It seems likely the dollar will remain strong until the next Fed meeting later in March. Seasonal factors are supporting it, and investors could start to position again for a softer Dollar into the spring.

On 6th March we will hear the UK Spring Budget. This has the potential to impact the Pound which is currently the second best performing G10 currency in 2024 after the US Dollar.

Currency forecasts are suggesting markets will remain quiet over the next quarter until we start to get movement on interest rates.

feel free to get in touch with (jasonguest@alphafx.co.uk) and ask how they can help.

 

FX Monthly movement

  • US$/ £ 1.26
  • US$/ € 1.08
  • £/€ 1.17

General news

We are pleased to have once again passed our Soil Association audit in February.

The Red Sea issues continue to impact supply chains from the Asian origins, in particular India where freight rates have continued to increase, whilst China rates have stabilised. The extended voyage time is also having an impact of stock availability.  The impact on rates from the Americas is more limited to date, but we might expect to see rates increase as the distribution of containers becomes impacted.

Unseasonal weather patterns still impact us, already much of Southern Europe is experiencing drought conditions. The warmer temperatures are also leading to more infestation issues in stocks being held/shipped and this is impacting significantly on organic supplies for all products.

Pumpkinseed kernels:

With Chinese New Year behind us the market is gradually reestablishing itself. Available raw material is now in the hands of processors or speculators in China, and we are seeing a gradual increase in prices as the weeks progress. There seems little chance of this reversing now, and indeed we would expect an upsurge in Export demand to fill EU/USA warehouse for the autumn which will add strength to the price.

Organic supplies to meet regulations in EU/UK are extremely hard to find and prices are reflecting this. There simply is insufficient to go round.

Linseed

It is becoming apparent that the principal Kazakhstan crop is significantly down on initial forecasts, and this is combined with generally poor-quality seed, which disproportionately impacts the consumer market as opposed to the oil processors.

In addition, the farmer led protests regarding imports of agri-commodities into EU countries from Ukraine and Russia, will challenge supply chains.  Cheap Russian material is still finding its way into the EU, but is identifiable by the price disparity. We would urge EU clients wanting to avoid Russian to request Certificates of origin with deliveries.

Demand has also reduced this season it appears which is limiting price rising which we see as inevitable.

The situation for golden linseed is compounded by the relatively limited availability in normal seasons.

Sesame seed

The recent awarding of the Korean tender to primarily African origins came as a surprise to Indian shippers who were expecting to win the majority of the tender. This hit prices somewhat in India although the impact on CFR pricing was minimal due to escalating freight. Nigeria continues to be better priced, but logistical arrangements make the source unattractive. On average it takes four weeks to get containers loaded and exported. A process which should be 2-3 days. Total lead time from order to receipt of goods is approaching four months.

India is planting its summer crop now, the areas was expected to be large, since farmers were enjoying the higher prices and seeing peanut prices decline, the alternative crop. But now the situation could change.

Perhaps of interest is the customs authorities are changing their inspection protocols, upping the frequency of tests for Salmonella and decreasing the tests for ETO. New effect, probably zero!

In Central America crops are collected and show further decline in plantings, continuing the trend of previous years. The next harvest is Venezuela in a few weeks, where we are expecting good yields. Export challenges remain, however. Guatemalan seed shows good value in the market at present compared to other Central American origins and indeed for some destinations against India.

Otherwise, limited news on sesame as we are mid season.

Hulled Millet

The 2023 crop was 100% up on 2022 so availability of material is not a problem. Getting it out of Ukraine is, with various EU border controls in place as Governments react to the numerous farmer protests taking place as the low prices. It seems somewhat hard on the Ukrainian farmers, since these same EU farmers enjoyed the bonanza in the markets when the war started and supplies dried up.

Sunflower

A complicated supply situation with the issues in the EU, firstly supporting Ukrainian exports by suspending any import duty, whilst on the other hand farmer protests continue in many countries complain about the price pressure from Ukrainian crops being marketed into the EU.

Fundamentals indicate that there is a deficit in supply for the 2023/24 season, so the current weak prices driven by Ukrainian material being released could be the precursor for tight supply and very firm pricing over the summer as supply will not meet demand. It is hard to believe at present with prices continually drifting lower for ‘spot’ material, but current levels cannot persist, and are only for ‘spot’ delivery.

Poppy

Prices are increasing from all remaining origins for available material. Many origins are now sold out, and thus the demand exceeds supply and we are in a very firm market. Currently whilst there will be some more availability in the Autumn the supply situation looks like it will remain in deficit for the foreseeable future.

Prices cannot drop, and flexibility on origin will be required to keep supplies flowing.

Quinoa

Harvest in Peru starts end April, and prices will now depend on the weather situation, but to date it is looking OK, although it is currently too dry, so things can change quickly. In Bolivia the situation is worse, and we would expect prices to increase. Bolivia tends to trade at a premium over Peruvian product so market could be dragged upwards.

We will have more to report end March after our visit to various processors in the region.

Chia

In 2023 Paraguayan exports increased 20% to 50K metric tonnes. The last two seasons have been kind to Paraguay with no early frosts to damage the crop. Hoping 2024 will be similar would mean a crop forecasted to be 65K metric tonnes. Bolivia is also hoping for a larger crop, having needed to import in 2023 to meet demand.

The Indian crop is due shortly and prices are competitive again, the crop whilst small in 2023 is expected to be significantly larger, as India competes to become a significant exporter.  It is wise to have Indian as an approved origin since the timing of the harvest fills the supply gap in EU/USA at the end/beginning of the South American crop availability.

Get in touch

Frank Horan
Frank HoranDirector
Nikki Divers
Nikki DiversDirector
Jake Yerrell
Jake YerrellCommercial Manager
Vera Grosse-Drieling
Vera Grosse-DrielingCommercial Manager
Micaela Camantigue
Micaela CamantigueAccount Manager