The early estimate of the 2013 crop of 71,600 tonnes has been revised upwards to 78,000 tonnes now that the processors have received all the crop and sufficient has been hulled and shelled to obtain a more accurate indication of kernel crackout as a percentage of received product. In what is turning out to be an excellent season from a crop perspective the news on returns is also positive with strong improvement in the global price during 2013 being further assisted by the falling Australian dollar. Returns to growers per tonne will be the highest they have been for some years which combined with the good yields for 2013 has almond growers thinking positively. The ABA is already witnessing renewed interest in orchard development. With worldwide demand for almonds and nuts in general growing consistently, an increase in plantings is not a matter for concern but will see the industry expand well beyond the $500 million value reached this year. The industry has rapidly changed from one focussed on the domestic market to one where three tonnes are to be sold overseas for every tonne sold in Australia. The first four months of the new marketing year have seen the volume of exports increase 9% whilst the improved global price has the value of those exports rising 59% compared to the same period last year. A further pleasing aspect of the early export sales is the feedback from buyers regarding the excellent quality of our new season product. The Californian industry is in the midst of their 2013 harvest and it appears they have managed their orchards very well during a period of short water allocations to achieve yields similar to last year. The US, being 80% of world almond production is the major influence on world supply. With a similar crop to 2012 it is anticipated the recent gains in the global prices will not significantly alter. The rise in the almond price is being carefully monitored as rapid increases can lead to a deterioration in demand that can be hard to re-establish. With strong prices for many nuts currently existing, almonds are still competitively priced and it is expected will remain a popular nut to include in existing and new products. The ABA domestic market development programs appear to be gaining strong traction with the health messages appearing time and again in food, fitness and health articles and TV segments. The scientific research providing support for almonds as a food with heart, stroke, diabetes and satiety benefits is building continuously.
The new Australian almond crop cycle has begun in spectacular fashion with 30,000 Hectares of orchards blooming during August. Reports from the ABA Grower Directors indicate the 2014 crop has the potential to be a strong one in all producing regions if the bees have done their work well. Improved grower returns on the large 2013 crop means we are able to ensure the new crop receives the required inputs of water, nutrient and sprays to turn the 2014 crop potential into reality in the absence of extreme weather events. With good grower returns on offer as a result of the best global prices for many years the term making hay while the sun shines comes to mind. The Marketing Directors report that the return to high quality product is being recognised in export markets with buyers commenting on the colour and flavour of the 2013 product we have grown. As an industry we have done a good job in very good growing and harvesting conditions. However, as an industry we must move to reduce the risks to producing a high quality product consistently. Managing product moisture is a key. The industry has grown dramatically during the past year with our previous 2012 record crop of 50,000 tonnes being smashed with an additional 28,000 tonnes of kernel being grown this year. The industry has coped well to produce, process and market such a large increase. The industry forecasts for future crops show larger crops still predicted as orchards reach full maturity but this growth should be about an extra 10,000 tonnes over the next few years. With the improved financial performance of the industry it is no surprise that more planting is to be undertaken in the next few years. Budwood orders from the ABA’s virus tested motherplantings have gained momentum after a lull for three years. Early orders of bud material will help the ABA manage supply to meet requirements in addition to the large amount already purchased. Growers should also consider ordering two year old trees rather than rely on spring budded trees which have a narrow window of approximately six weeks during November and December for bud cutting and grafting. It has been a busy but rewarding business year in 2012/13. I invite all industry members to attend the ABA Annual General Meeting and the Almond Conference to be held at the Stamford Grand
in Glenelg commencing with a welcome dinner on the 29th October and concluding on the afternoon of the 31st. Last year’s Conference was a great success and the program this year again includes presenters from Australia and overseas.
The substantial nature of the benefits provides a meaningful message to nutritionists, health professionals , fitness advisers and ultimately the consumer.