The Ferrero patriarch, Pietro, famously used hazelnuts to 'cut' the more expensive chocolate in the progenitor to today's Nutella.It is time to stock up on marzipan?
The nut market has divided between peanuts, of which supplies are ample and prices depressed, and tree nuts, of which the reverse is true – particularly for hazelnuts and almonds - according to Singapore-based agricultural commodities trader Olam International.And it will need either an improvement in weather or seed varieties to change the situation.'Under serious pressure'For peanuts, the "the market is really oversupplied", said A Shekhar, the Olam finance director, noting a jump of 25% to 5.21bn pounds in production in the US alone last year, where output is expected to grow further this year, to 5.78bn pounds, boosted by extra sowings as farmers switch from other crops."It has taken cotton, corn acreage."If you look at the farming economics today, cotton producers are roughly losing Sing$14 ($10.60) an acre, corn producers are about breakeven, peanut unirrigated producers are making up Sing$78 per acre, and irrigated peanut producers are making about Sing$220 per acre," Mr Shekhar said.Besides changes to the US farm support regime, the economics reflect "the launch of a fairly revolutionary variety" which has "dramatically increased productivity".With Argentine peanut production, and Chinese sowings, also higher, "peanut prices are under serious pressure".Peanut prices, which in the US are trading at 22.5 cents a pound, are "in a down cycle", he said.'Lifetime-high prices'However, for the so-called "noble" tree nuts, prices have been soaring, making cashews, at Sing$3.70 ($2.80) a pound, a relatively cheap option.For hazelnuts, "we are seeing lifetime-high prices", Mr Shekhar said, underlining the dent to output last year in Turkey, the top producing country", from frost....MORE