Low output fuels Guatemalan cardamom prices

GUATEMALAN cardamom prices look likely to face increases over the coming weeks due to an expected fall in output.

According to the latest trade estimates, Guatemala’s 2006/07 cardamom crop, harvesting of which is expected to finish in March, will total around 21,000 tonnes compared with 25,000 tonnes in 2005/06 and 32,000 tonnes in 2004/05.

Andrew Barker of the trading division of UK company Natco Foods said that due to the current production shortfall, medium sized whole green cardamoms are now commanding prices of $9,100 a tonne c&f Europe, a level which is some $2,000 a tonne higher than that of two months ago.

“The crop started in October at around $6,100 [a tonne] for a medium whole green. It went to about $7,100 in November and it has since leapt in the last one week by $2,000 a tonne to around $9,100 to $9,250. That is because of the shortfall – it was a smaller crop and there is no material carried over from the last crop, ” he added. Mr Barker indicated that MYQ cardamoms of a minimum of 360gpl are now being traded at $3,100 a tonne c&f Europe.

In December, traders were already warning that the crop was likely to be smaller than normal. In addition, they attributed price increases being seen at the time to a lack of material arriving from Guatemala.

The exact reasons for the decline in output are unclear although it is suspected that collections have been less because local villagers were discouraged by the relatively low prices experienced in 2006.

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