As we move toward Christmas, some of the traditional favourites are beginning to make more of a presence on our shelves, not least of all hazelnuts. While hazelnuts remain one the most common and consumed nuts, their prices this year have plummeted following news of an excellent crop for the 2012/13 season, however in the run-up to Christmas prices have now begun to recover.
Over the past year hazelnut prices have been at two extremes, both at their highest levels for over five years, and also their lowest levels since 2009.
Turkey is both the world's largest producer and exporter of hazelnuts and annually produces around 75% of world output with other European countries producing 15% and the US around 4%. A poor harvest in Turkey's off year in its biennial cycle resulted in a reduced crop for the 2011/12 season. The crop was a meagre 430,000 tonnes, down 25% of the 2010/11 crop. Consequently, global production fell 11% to just 647,000 tonnes, causing prices to rise to exceptionally high levels.
For the 2012/13 season, Turkish production alone is reported to be in the region of 710,000 tonnes, up 65% on 2011/12. As a result, global production is pegged at 906,000 tonnes in 2012/13, up a staggering 40% on 2011/12 but just shy of the record crop of 2008/09 that was nearer 980,000 tonnes.
Prices have now started to recover. As Turkish farmers and suppliers are reported to have held onto their stocks following cheaper prices, as they wait for prices to strengthen and see a higher return on their product.
Whilst prices may well continue to rise seasonally until February, they are expected to remain below the levels seen in 2011 and early 2012.