The RM Curtis Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit Market Report: July-August 2006, revealed that early crop shipments of almonds were predicted to struggle and pricing would be forced even higher in the short term, says Mark Setterfield, trading director at RM Curtis.

The bulk of supply is expected to come by late October/early November and it is hoped this will result in cheaper prices from the turn of the year.

The forecasts for the Chinese crop, pinenuts, are not particularly optimistic and, with their own domestic market requirements increasing rapidly, this will reduce the amounts to be produced for export. At this stage, the supplemental Russian and Mongolian crops are also reported to be below average.

Prices for pecans are already up by 15% since the start of the season, and there are suggestions that pricing will continue to rise. But coconut prices are likely to remain strong over the next two months, with the seasonal weakness expected to recur from November onwards.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for Iran to regain its diminishing market share of pistachios, given its poor quality history.

Although the major European snack packers are divided in their opinion on which origin offers the best option, price is still king and, should Iran take some dramatic steps to undercut the aggressive pricing of its US counterparts, there could be an eventual shift back and better pricing in the longer term. Short-term, however, RM Curtis expects to see US pistachios dominate supply and prices hold accordingly.