The 2023 Australian almond crop has failed to live up to pre-season expectations and looks set to be down by up to 25% on estimate.
It is an unprecedented drop in yield for the industry and has left industry stakeholders pointing to a range of contributing factors.
Poor pollination weather, a shortage of beehives in key Victorian orchards, poor quality water during flooding in the southern Murray Darling Basin and generally unfavourable weather throughout the growing season have all been cited as factors in the low out-turns.
ABA CEO Tim Jackson confirmed that the industry was in the process of recalculating the crop estimate to be published in May once processors had received a larger volume of receivals, but it was clear from existing harvest receivals that the crop will be well down.
“This will be a huge blow for growers who are already dealing with high costs of production and low global pricing,” he said.
“We are in for another tough year. We have had storms, beehive shortages, floods, high input costs and low prices, so this is just another challenge for the industry.”
The ABA had posted a pre-season crop estimate of 156,200 tonnes in January.
Mr Jackson said all three major almond producing countries – USA, Spain and Australia – were all facing lower than expected crops in 2023.
“California have gone from drastic drought to flooding and is almost certain to be well below earlier predictions.”
Mr Jackson said the global supply outlook for almonds is currently being squeezed due to these supply shortages.
The US almond acreage report, set to be published late April/May, was expected to shed light on the potential decline in future acreage. The May Californian Position Report would provide more information regarding the current strength of demand for almonds and the size of the US carryover volume.
The USDA’s Subjective Estimate for the 2023 Californian almond crop is also due for release in May, providing the most accurate projection for production levels for the US.
“There is no doubt that almond growers, buyers, and traders will analyse these reports to set future pricing,” Mr Jackson said.
“Without the recent logistical disruption and COVID impacts the rules of supply and demand will apply.”
The Almond Board of Australia will continue to provide growers with regular market updates, including news from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Conference in London also in May.