Thursday, February 23, 2006

REMA FOODS IMPORT MARKET FLASH

REMA FOODS IMPORT MARKET FLASH Tel: 201-947-1000
DATE: Feb 23, 2006

TRADE/POLITICS
-- On February 8th, President Bush signed the official repeal of the Byrd Amendment (the effect of which should be fewer future antidumping cases against imports).
-- US Customs and Border Protection officers in Arizona, have seized 34 pounds of marijuana, which were hidden in 10 food cans of jalapeno peppers and tomatoes

CURRENCY UPDATE
No major changes.

TUNA
With the Christmas/Chinese New Year period over, fishing should be improving, but it’s not. The catch is very poor, and since cold storage stocks are low, raw material pricing is firming quickly. Packers are already talking about figures over $1,000/mton for skipjack, and some panic is starting to set in. Because of the high cost of fuel, and the low probability of a good catch, many fishing boats remain at the docks. Yellowfin is closely tracking skipjack. Tongol is rising and Albacore continues to firm - as it has been doing consistently for the past 9 months. Albacore raw material costs have now topped $2850/mton.

PINEAPPLE
As the U.S. and Thailand negotiate the details of their upcoming free trade agreements, pineapple is taking a primary role in the talks. Thai officials are pushing hard for duty free treatment for pineapple (about $0.10/cs) and more importantly, a revocation of the current anti-dumping duty, which is still 24.6% for many packers. Overall Thai pineapple export tonnage to the U.S. was up 16% last year, and was more than double Indonesia’s exports. In the U.S., Del Monte announced it was pulling out of growing pineapple in Hawaii, relocating all operations to other countries.

MANDARIN ORANGES
Spain has reported that their completed pack was down in tonnage by about half compared to last year, and yields were the worst in 20 years. Raw material cost has gone up 33% from 0.18 to 0.24 euro/kilo. In China, the situation is no better, with pricing up about 35% from last year, and up 20% from the new pack opening offers of just a couple of months ago.

PEACHES, FRUIT COCKTAIL/MIX
Growing concerns about domestic U.S. fruits have renewed interest in imports. One leading domestic brand, Del Monte, has reportedly just bought hundreds of containers of peaches overseas – a telling sign on their views of the domestic situation. For the new season, domestic sources are concerned about the low number of chilling hours recorded so far this year. In fact, in California, the first 12 days of February were the warmest since record keeping began 66 years ago.

OLIVE OIL
With a skyrocketing market, there is great incentive for cheaters to sell adulterated oil. The New York Times reported last week that Federal agents just seized 22,700 gallons of “extra virgin and pomace olive oil” that turned out to be in reality soybean oil.

ARTICHOKES
Market remains tight as a short South American season has left producers there unable to fulfill all their outstanding commitments.

RAISINS
The latest harvest of Turkish sultanas (an inexpensive raisin) was poor, with output at 220,000 mtons, down 30% from last year. California output is expected to finish strong but growers are complaining about a shortage of labor – labor costs have increased 40% from just last year.

KALAMATA OLIVES
Unlike ripe and green olives, this kalamata season is better than last year and pricing is slightly lower.

MUSHROOMS
Poor harvest in China continues to put upward pressure on the world market price for mushrooms.

BAMBOO SHOOTS
With new crop still four months away, a sever shortage of bamboo shoots has developed. Current crop/carryover is completely sold out.

TOMATO PASTE
Expectations are building for higher pricing on California tomato paste this season, due to low carryover, lower new crop output and tough price negotiations with the farmers. On the other hand, China is planning to expand production for the next season.