Hazelnut prices to stabilise in forthcoming months?

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Tonne Metric system

Hazelnut prices remain at all time highs but the imminent crop from
key producer Turkey could offer some stability to snack makers and
confectioners impacted by the record highs.

Poor harvests over the past two years in Turkey, that accounts for over 70 per cent of world hazelnut production, have sent prices soaring for these popular nuts: from about $2,150 a tonne two years ago to highs of $11,120 earlier this year, although they have since dipped slightly.

The nut is now commanding over €8 a kilo.

And as with any other potentially cash-enriching food commodity, speculators from outside the industry have entered the price game, contributing to the price rises.

But this week estimates from the US ministry of agriculture say Turkish production for the September 2005 crop could reach 525,000 metric tons (MT), rising to 600,000 MT in 2006.

Annual hazelnut demand comes in at around 700,000- 900,000. Remaining non-Turkish crops are made up by Italy, Spain, the US, as well as Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Industry believes there are enough crops to meet their 2005/2006 formulation needs.

Prices are clearly still the number one concern, but there are hopes there might be some relief in forthcoming months.

"I hope, and think, they will go down. As farmers go to market in coming weeks, a surplus would see prices drop, but on the other hand, if the industry leaps on the crops, prices will feel the squeeze,"​ a spokesperson for Belgian hazelnut spread maker All Crump tells FoodNavigator.com.

The firm, that supplies private labels, uses about 2500 tonnes of hazelnut paste, sourced from Cargill, a year.

"We buy good quality paste, which is currently about €8.50/€8.60 a kilo,"​ he adds.

The Belgian firm, like others, says it has managed to pass a slice of their prices onto customers.

For snack manufacturers, switching to a more flexible, and cheaper, crop could offer some relief and prevent price rises for customers.

But one key alternative, almonds, has also witnessed a doubling in prices in the past years to $8,400 (£4,700) a tonne.

Sending prices soaring, the US, a key global producer of almonds, saw the 2005 crop fall by about 15 per cent on last year's crop.

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