Guatemala nears end of cardamom stocks

GUATEMALA appears to have completely sold out of bold green cardamoms and other grades are running very tight so prices are expected to remain prone to upward pressure for the foreseeable future.

Andrew Barker, managing director of PBAbrokerage, told  that Guatemala has run out of cardamoms of the full green colour favoured by retailers. Instead, the origin has limited quantities of light green cardamoms. “There are small lots of mixed, yellow quality (MYQ) but they look very tired and grey,” Mr Barker added.

The new crop will start in the second half of September and initial forecasts are pegging it to match that of 2008/09 at 18,000 tonnes. This would compare with 20,000 tonnes in 2007/08 and 24,000 tonnes in 2006/07.

Drying and cleaning of the new crop material normally takes about one month so first shipments should be under way around the first half of October, if the crop is not late.

Sellers in Guatemala believe that there will be no immediate fall in prices when the new crop comes out because buyers in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East will be hungry for material as they emerge from Ramadan without any stocks.

Mr Barker noted that it is anyone’s guess whether this strong demand will emerge and keep prices firm. However, he added that with the current high prices and a new crop on the way, there is bound to be a very small downwards correction in prices at some point around October/November if the crop is still estimated at the same size as last year.

This possible downward correction aside, new crop offers are expected to remain on the firm side due to the general lack of material around currently, implying a strong need for the new crop produce. In addition, the crop size is seen as falling short of previous seasons, so output is on a downtrend.

Albert Berisa of Rotterdam trader Catz International said that prices continued to be steady to firm due to the lower 2008/09 crop and lack of carryover stocks. “Now of course we are at the end of the crop and there is still some demand from the Middle East before Ramadan starts,” he added.

Mr Berisa observed that European buyers had also been active of late, having taken only limited cover earlier in the season due to high prices and economic uncertainty.

Mr Barker said that one seller had quoted new crop large whole green cardamoms at $14.50 a kg c&f for October shipment and MYQs of minimum 360 grams a litre at $9.75 a kg c&f

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