GUATEMALAN cardamom prices have shown increases in recent weeks on reports that the new crop is likely to fall short of earlier estimates.
In August, most exporters at origin had been pegging the 2010/11 crop to reach between 23,000 and 24,000 tonnes, which would be a substantial increase on the 17,000 to 18,000 tonnes attained in 2009/10. However, in September and early October, exporters revised their estimates down to a range of 20,000 to 21,000 tonnes as they obtained more up to date information on the crop.
Although the planted area and yields were still expected to be ahead of those of last year, they are not looking as favourable as they were at the outset. Andrew Barker, managing director of PBA Brokerage, told that one exporter had told him that the crop in his growing areas would be 30% to 40% down to excess wet weather in September. Other exporters had indicated that they had not experienced such difficulties.
Mr Barker added: “The new crop was offered cheap by most sellers up until about four weeks ago. At one point, medium whole greens were being offered at the lowest level of $18 a kg, MYQs (mixed yellow qualities) bottomed at $11 a kg and seeds were selling for about $16 to $17 a kg.
“However, when the market information in the middle of October started to really hit in and the buyers had problems getting raw material from the middlemen they started to panic and last week prices rose anywhere between 25% to 30% in one week, which is a huge turnaround.”
Mr Barker explained that MYQs were now being offered at $15 to $16 a kg, seeds were anywhere between $26 and $30 a kg, and medium whole greens were $22 to $24 a kg.
At a meeting of the Guatemalan Cardamom Exporters Association on October 27 there was a consensus that prices had gone up and would stabilise around current levels for a period, until a true direction of the market could be ascertained.
One of the difficulties clouding the picture is that middlemen are proving reulctant to release new crop stocks.