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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sesame Seed Market Report 12th November 2008

First we would like to thank all the esteemed friends and guest whom we had the pleaure of meeting at SIAL , Paris.It was our pleasure and honor to have met you there and a great learning experience for us.

Markets as we expected and mentioned in our previous Market Report started going down after the intital covering pressure eased off and the arrivals picked up after diwali.News of a good African crop is spreading around and this time the Africans have priced themselves very competitively.

The markets in India have falled almost 12% in the past 2 weeks however a portion of this fall was negated by the corresponding fall in the USD against the Indian Rupee which had touched an all time peak of 1 USD = Rs 50.15 in the last week of Oct. The Rupee is currently trading in the range of Rs 48- Rs 48.75 to a USD. Hence a 5-6% of the fall was negated by the Ruppee- USD fluctuation.

In real terms the prices have fallen back to almost the lowest levels they touched this season. The arrivals which picked up after Diwali Holidays have once again dwindled back to same or even lower levels in certain regions. We see some resistance at current levels as the domestic consuption in India picks up pace as the winter starts to set in. With 100% of the crop now harvested ,talking to the farmers and taking into account the average arrivals over the past 30 days from various local markets ,we can assume that the total crop in India should be around 220,000 Mt -240,000 Mt this year.,which falls roughly in the range we assumed last month.Last year the total crop in India was estimated to be about 380,000 Mt.So we are clearly
short by about 150,000 Mt , in addition to the problem of poor quality.

The quality remains a major problem this year, with almost all destinations having major rain damaged seeds.This is creating a big confusion in the market, the price variation between the lowest and the highest quality is almost 12% in the domestic market. The lowest being sold as Hulling ( This is actually the crushing grade, which is rain damaged ) and the highest ofcourse the 99/1 grade.Thea ration of Hulling Grade and 99/1 Grade arrival in the market is 90:10 this
year where it traditionally is about 60:40.The lower grade although looking very attactive in terms of pricing is giving much less yield and more and more sorting rejections which is taking the costs up. In the factory its hard to factor in these cost immediately but we believe sooner or later everyone in the trade will realize this and we should see some benchmark levels being formed. Due to this huge variation in the domestic pricing we see the same for the export
market as well , where our friends and clients have told us that the price band in Hulled Sesamebeing offered from India is almost $100 at the moment.

In a way we did want the prices to come down to sustainable levels to see the demand coming back to India but taking into consideration the current financial crisis we have our doubts that the buying pressure would resume anytime soon, the volumes are certain to drop this year but that could also mean slow but sustained buying all year round this time.Liquidity pressure and global turmoil are bound to affect the sentiments worldwide.

The arrival pressure has fizzed out from India, no doubt that the farmers are stocking marterial anticipating a price hike and usually the farmers dont panic that easy to pump all their cargo in the market if the prices fall. They might hold on to their stocks for good 5-6 months and continue to get limited amount in the market as and when they are in need of some money. African crop is out as well with shipments already taking place from Nigeria.Nigerian quality which traditionally goes to Japan for crushing is being tried by the middle eastern countries for the reason of cheaper pricing. Ethiopia and Sudan are just slightly cheaper than India. With the information we have from Africa , we dont see their prices falling too much as they clearly know that India is not their price competitior anymore
this year.

We now have to wait and see how much more the prices have to fall before the demand resumes and brings stablity to the market. Overall a 5% fall from here would get us below the lowest levels of this new crop and that would mean that technically all the stockists will start to loose money assuming that they all bought at the lowest levels.I am sure there will be some resistance at those levels and keeping aside the few volatile ups and lows that we may have a very "Boring" stable levels all year round. Just as last year the prices could not have just kept going up the same holds true for prices going down too much.Once again its really really difficult to judge the bottom this year and as we always emphasize its exteremly important to have a good average and little but consistant business this year to sustain oneself.India we believe still remains in a strong position as far as Hulled Sesame is concerned and although we have heard about some quantities being served from Africa and Middle east they are of limited quantity and accessible to a limited few.

We fear that a lot of companies might close their Sesame operations this year , we already have news about a few companies trying to finish their existing orders and stocks and step away from the market.Actually its not the sesame that is selling this season, "Only relations are selling". Friends and clients are back to the most trusted suppliers , and with slow down in demand they see no reason to go fishing around and risking huge amount of their money on someone unknow. I think that will and should be the trend this season as business will be done mostly on back to back or hand to mouth basis.

It has been a year or uncertainity , we started the year 2008 with extreme bullishness and by the end of it everyone seems to be bearish. Sometimes I get the feeling that in India the sesame prices are somehow magically linked to the stock markets.