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General news

I think it is reasonable to say that whilst we continue in the mid season period between crops, there is a lot of speculation and little fact as to the likely price trend for the new season commencing in August. Certainly, it is shaping up to be a different season again. The End of the El Nino weather complex combined with apparent climate change impacts is disrupting crop cycles globally. From a wet spring in UK making planting difficult and pushing harvesting times later than usual, to drought conditions already in some parts of Southern Europe and North Africa. Further afield Brazil has suffered a stifling heat wave and now parts of the country receive 30% of their annual rainfall in one day.

Predicting the future in this unstable period is impossible.

Otherwise, Red Sea risks keep vessels away from the Suez and freight rates firm. The futures markets see little encouragement for rates to fall before 2027. Crops in Ukraine are uncertain as Russia slowly gains ground in the region, at least temporarily.

EU initiatives to stop the flow of Russian material have been diluted, but trades routes are likely to be disrupted, everything is adding to potential future firmness.

Pumpkinseed kernels

Planting in China is more or less complete, and acreage is looking good as buyers switch from other crops to shine skin pumpkin. GWS supplies continue to decline and as a consequence price differentials have a tendency to widen.

In recent past years the strong and continuing demand domestically for in shell shine skin has become the major influence on the market and will be the major influence on supply/demand patterns going forward.

But all continuing positively in the growing cycle we should see attractive shine skin prices for goods arriving for supply in 2025, whereas GWS might not decline to the same extent.

Linseed

After several rumours surrounding an imminent duty on Russian material, several meetings have taken place between EU and Kazakh authorities to ensure the continued flow of material. The second meeting reached a consensus that would permit the transit of Kazakh material through Russia with the gradual increase in duty rates on Russian material entering the EU. So, for Russian / Belarussian material, the proposal is 10% from July 1st ’24, 20% from Jan 1st ’25, 50% from Jan 1st ’26. For the UK there is already a 35% duty rate applicable that has been in force for some years now. The situation should be ratified towards the end of May.

Obviously, this has increased markets by 10-15% as the pipeline of cheap material is closed down. This amounts to 400,000mt of material that normally comes into the EU. It will of course find other export homes in non-EU markets, so the impact on global prices is yet to be established. But for now, linseed is firmer within the community.

As ever Golden linseed is becoming scarce, and prices reflect this at this time of year.

Sesame seed

India is collecting its summer crop now, and around 100,000mt is expected in total. This will be shared between black & white varieties. The harvest is about 15% below expectation due to water shortage for irrigation.

Indian authorities are rejecting large numbers of containers of natural sesame from South America due to pesticide levels in the seed. However, stocks have been imported and it is this material, which is offered at a discount into the market, due to the high risk of pesticide contamination. However, these cheaper prices keep pressure on the genuine good quality material.

Red sea freight as previously mentioned shows no sign of decline and from India is running about 600% higher than November last year. It makes Nigeria look like a viable competitive source, but logistics challenges and huge delays continue to make the supply chain more or less impossible to rely on.

South America has some harvests now, but all are concerned with the pesticide levels. Asia will continue to buy from here taking some pressure of the natural sesame market for now.

Hulled Millet

The market remains soft due to the huge harvest Ukraine received and reduced demand. As the season progresses farmers are looking to liquidate stocks to finance their new plantings. There will be a significant carryover which should protect the market from most issues.

Sunflower

A peculiar situation which seems to imply somewhat of a pressure cooker effect. Availability of raw material continues to decline in the market. A potential increase in sunflower oil demand and prices is expected by the whole market. As a consequence, farmers are reluctant to sell, expecting this increase and wanting to benefit since current levels do not cover their production costs.

The situation is made worse by tight supply from Ukraine and major attacks on their infrastructure by the Russians.

But prices are not reflecting the situation, partly as processors have good stocks, demand is steady and some mills have already closed. It seems hard to see how this is not going to lead to a shortage before new crop, which we have experienced in several previous seasons. We shall see.

Poppy

No new news. Supplies tight everywhere, prices firm and will remain so until at least August/September. Czech reported to be increasing their planting area. Turkey has some stocks of good quality high priced material, whereas Spain and elsewhere is sold out until new crop.

We would suggest you cover 2024 requirements now, whilst we still have available stocks.

Quinoa

Good weather just prior to harvest has positively affected crop expectations in Peru and prices have declined a little as a consequence as expected. This has seen USA demand pick up. In Bolivia it is the opposite situation where crop yields are poorer and prices have increased. For EU supply the challenge is organic material where tight regulation on pesticide limits is making the situation demanding.

Buyers of red and black quinoa should be pleased as these grades are seeing more significant price declines.

Chia

Defaults on supply contracts by buyers has led to the usual overstocking of material in EU warehouses leading to a temporary bonanza of cheap spot stock, as shippers caught with inventory look to dispose of it as quickly as possible. Planting for the new crop is underway and reflecting a typical weather market of concern. Currently too dry, leading to the potential of resowing some areas.

Other emerging regions have supply until the autumn harvest in Paraguay, so we will wait and see how things develop.

Organic material continues to be the greatest challenge.

Currency update

We suspect May will bring more of the same for FX markets … Expectations of monetary easing remain with all three central banks having now indicated their rate hiking cycle has finished, although markets anticipate that any cuts won’t come before June.

The ECB is expected to lead the interest rate cuts, with speculation pointing towards a reduction in their June meeting. With inflation relatively stable in the EU and several major Eurozone economies grappling with sluggish growth, the conditions for an interest rate reduction are looking more likely.

Given its persistently higher inflation than its counterparts, the UK appears less inclined to cut interest rates too quickly. As a result, a rate cut is anticipated in August or September, with the possibility of further delay if inflation remains elevated.

The Federal Reserve is expected to start rate cuts somewhere in the middle, with the first cut coming in June or July, providing inflation levels don’t continue to exceed the target threshold.

Across the FX markets, where interest rate expectations are currently the most significant driver, we could see substantial market shifts should any unexpected events occur.

These events could include:

  • Stable or elevated inflation: Currencies could strengthen if inflation remains steady or even rises compared to previous months. This implies that interest rates may remain higher for an extended period, attracting foreign investment.
  • A sharp decline in GDP growth: A sudden and substantial drop in GDP growth could weaken the associated currency. This signals economic weakness and could prompt earlier interest rate cuts to stimulate growth, further dampening investor confidence.
  • Delayed interest rate cuts: If the ECB, Fed, or BOE signal or decide to postpone interest rate cuts beyond the projected timeframes, it could benefit the respective currency in the short term. This delay might suggest a more resilient economy than previously thought, bolstering investor sentiment.

Increased market volatility from adjusting policy rates, coupled with concerns over the upcoming elections in both the US and UK will start to impact the markets as we enter Q3 so plenty to ponder in the months ahead.

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