The price of dried vine fruits coming from Turkey and Greece is soaring, due to extreme drought and the recent fires.

Turkish raisin prices are firming, as the vine fruit crop appears to be shrinking. The strengthening Lira has contributed to a "short-term gloomy view" on prices from Turkey, according to Mark Setterfield, trading director of R M Curtis, distributor of dried fruit and nuts, and author of Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit Market Report: August 2007.

As of 20 August, total exports of Turkish sultanas for the season were 258,000 metric tonnes, about 60,000 more than for the same period last year. "This increase in export demand is huge, reflecting substantial growth in consumer trend for product development, home baking and healthier eating," said Setterfield.

Turkish sultana prices are about 30% higher than in September 2006. The Turkish apricot crop is estimated at 79-80,000 metric tonnes, with season demand at 110,000. "This shortfall can only mean firmer prices - at least, according to Turkish exporters," added Setterfield.

The heat wave that hit Greece, plus recent fires, brought chaos. Damage to the current crop, which was hit by the fires, is unclear. "Before the fires, the crop was thought to be around 25% down on last year, but this figure might now be greater," said Setterfield.

"Greek producers must position pricing carefully. Demand for currants as a key ingredient has been replaced partly by cheaper sultanas or even higher-priced exotic tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya etc). Producers push prices high at their peril."