Almond crop decrease suggests rising prices

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The most recent forecast for this year's California almond crop
signals a decline on that reaped 12 months ago, heralding an almost
certain price rise, reports Philippa Nuttall.

The 11 May 2005 subjective forecast for the 2005 almond crop - on a shelled basis - is 850 million pounds, according to the California Agricultural Statistics Service (CASS).

This figure is a 15 percent decrease on the 2004 crop, which has yielded around 998 million pounds to-date. CASS forecasts that the 2005 bearing acreage will be 550,000 acres.

Susan Pollack, a USDA almond specialist, said that this news is likely to push up prices, but conceded that it was too early to say by what extent.

"This looks like being one of the lowest crops for several years and the demand for almonds is quite high,"​ she told

Indeed, demand for almonds has increased in recent years as the tastes of various almond-eating ethnic communities have expanded into more mainstream foods. And, the almond boards have provoked greater consumption of the nut through better and more frequent marketing.

Moreover, as Pollack said, the almond stocks at the end of last year's season were about 8 percent down on those of the year before.

And, there is growing demand from countries to which the US exports 75 percent on its almonds, namely Europe - in particular Germany and Spain - and India, which buys nuts in their shells for direct consumption and shelling.

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