INDONESIAN mace prices declined in the week ending December 16 as exporters at origin aimed to clear stocks in a market of slack demand.
European traders quoted East Indies broken No.2 grades as easing to shipment levels of $33,000 a tonne cif from $35,000 a tonne cif a week earlier and to spot prices of $32,000 a tonne from $36,000 previously. Papua broken No.2 grades were said to be at $30,000 a tonne cif against $31,000 before.
One UK trader said he had seen lower prices than these, having received an offer on Indonesian mace broken No.2 mace from the island of Siauw at $27,000 a tonne.
The trader suggested that buyers had got used to high prices over the last few years and, with world supplies short, were also used to not purchasing so much nutmeg and mace. Mace is traditionally used for baking at Christmas so purchases for this key period would have been done a number of weeks ago. “The last few weeks have been quiet on the nutmeg and the mace because the food manufacturers would have bought it earlier in the year,” the trader noted.
One Dutch trader told “At the moment there is some more quantity available of mace in comparison to the nutmegs and there has been some more selling pressure on the mace, which is why the mace prices have been corrected downwards to some extent. But the nutmeg prices remain steady to firm.”
The Dutch trader noted that mace usually draws much less demand than nutmeg so it was understandable that Indonesia still had stocks of mace it was looking to sell. “Lately the demand for mace has not been so big and of course the various collectors and exporters also want to dispose of their stocks, especially at the current high, interesting levels,” he said.
The trader noted that prices would have rebounded quickly if this recent discounting had succeeded in drawing buyers in, but there was no sign of it achieving this.
“There is still a shortage of nutmegs in general, but now there is some kind of an imbalance of stocks of mace in comparison to nutmegs,” he added.
The Dutch trader said he was hopeful that demand would pick up again in the new year, thereby stabilising prices again.
Similarly, the UK trader remarked that there should be more interest from January onwards as the winter months were normally the peak buying period. However, he cautioned: “It remains to be seen whether the high prices we have had on nutmeg and mace for a couple of years now are going to have an effect on demand from the food industry.”