With such a big crop (estimated to be at least 603,000 tonnes), almonds are attractively priced compared to other tree nuts, said RM Curtis’ trading director Mark Setterfield in the firm’s new report, Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit, June-July 2007.

"With this in mind, we would expect demand to increase, so the surplus might become tighter as the new season progresses," he said. "We are also yet to see the impact of the new regulatory changes on aflatoxin testing in the EU, which are due to be put in place from 1 September."

’Aflatoxin’ is a term that refers to any group of toxic compounds produced by certain moulds. These can contaminate stored food supplies, such as nuts.

The legislation will mean that all almonds coming from the US will need to be accompanied by a Voluntary Aflatoxin Sampling Plan (VASP) certificate, which will prove that the goods have been tested for aflatoxin in California to the European protocol.

"With 5% of imports to be tested regardless, this could impact on the timing of containers being cleared, set against deliveries required over September and October," added Setterfield. "That said, the protocol for routine testing, has been around for years on hazelnuts. Apart from the inconvenience of containers being taken for testing, overall the effect has been insignificant. But there might still be a squeeze on goods over September and October as the system beds in."

RM Curtis is an importer, trader and packer of nuts, dried fruit and other dried products, based in London and Essex.