GUATEMALA recorded a good start to cardamom shipments over the first three months of this year, but European dealers have cautioned that it is too early to draw any firm conclusions from this.
Official data shows that the South American country shipped a total of 8,103 tonnes to global destinations between January and March 2011, 46% up from the 5,547 tonnes sold overseas in the same period of 2010.
Saudi Arabia remained the leading destination, taking 2,548 tonnes over the latest period, an increase of 36.3% from the volumes it acquired in the first quarter of 2010.
Sales to the United Arab Emirates dipped 8.8% to 871 tonnes but Syria upped its offtake by a massive 180.7% to 674 tonnes.
The figures would appear to nullify concerns that Middle East turmoil would dampen demand.
However, one Rotterdam trader told that it was too soon to make such an assessment. “There are peak moments of buying and shipments. So it could be that the first three months of this year are showing high exports, but you have to look at the entire season and only then can you judge whether the Middle East has bought more or less or the same.”
The trader suggested that it was likely that there was a peak in arrivals in the first quarter as this would be when the crop was in full swing.
In the meantime, demand remained limited due to quite high prices, the trader observed. “I am told there is still some demand to be covered,” he added.