After record almond ship-ments over the first three months of the new season (September-November), December shipments were also slightly up on the 2006 figure. Overall domestic sales were down by 18.4% while exports were up by 8.8%, said Mark Setterfield MD of RM Curtis.

However, RM Curtis’ Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit Market Report: Jan/Feb 2008, stated that January has been predictably quiet and, with little trading, origin prices have stabilised, although UK prices have clearly been hit by the gradual weakening of sterling against the US dollar.

In California and Spain, crops will be largely affected by the weather over February-March. "Poor weather over the next two months would instantly kick this market higher and, with plenty of buying still to be covered, the increases could potentially be substantial," said Setterfield.

For walnuts, earlier fears over worldwide supply shortages for 2008 appeared to be materialising. "The short Californian crop has sent US prices into orbit," he added. "We strongly advise buyers to cover the remainder of their 2008 requirements while stocks exist, let alone last!"

As for coconut, RM Curtis expects that, after the Easter demand eases, prices over the summer months will also ease: "However, with no immediate sign of any weakness from the oil and biofuel sectors, this market can easily remain firm in the short- to medium-term."