Bonds, Currencies & Commodities
Tea, Caprolactam and Cardamon

Tea import by India, the world’s largest producer after China, has shot up 28% in July 2009, despite high prices. In July 2009, India imported 2.85 million kg of tea compared with 2.05 million kg a year earlier. India produced 460.88 million kg till July 2009, about 16 million kg less than a year earlier. Drought in Assam, the largest producing state, has raised fears of a decline in domestic output prompting rise in import and higher prices. The import price of tea went up to Rs83.93/kg in July 2009 from Rs73.71/kg in July last year. However, the average export price of tea rose to Rs133.80/kg between January 2009 and July 2009 from Rs106.27/kg in the previous year.

Caprolactam is the principal raw material for Nylon-6, and is used for producing nylon filament yarn (NFY) and nylon tyre cord fabric (NTCF). Its demand from automobile and textile manufacturers has been rising. The international price has surged 66% from the February low of Rs70,000 per tonne to Rs1,16,000 a tonne as on 15 September 2009.

Cardamom output may fall 15%-20% this season as plantations in Kerala were devoid of showers during June 2009 that lowered crop output. Last year, production was 10,000 tonnes. Heavy rains during the latter half of August 2009 have further affected the crop.

 

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Natural Gas

Natural gas slid to a seven-and-a-half-year low, falling to an intraday low of $2.409 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on 4 September 2009. But, from there, it recorded a jump of 56% in just a few days of trading. The price was $3.76 per mmBtu as on 15th September. Natural gas prices were under pressure due to shortage of storage as well as moderate demand due to an economic downturn. Meanwhile, for this time of the year, gas inventories are 17% above the five-year average and the US Energy Department expects supplies to exceed the record of 3.545 trillion cubic feet reached on 2 November 2007.

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Higher sugar prices impact food products industry
Overall commodity prices, especially sugar prices, have witnessed a correction of about 10% during the past few days. The food products industry, however, said it may not be able to bear the cost pressures despite minor corrections in commodity prices and would have to increase food product prices in the near future.
 
“Everyone in the food business is contemplating the situation as commodity prices do not seem to come down,” said Pankaj Chaturvedi, executive director, Graviss Food Solutions, the exclusive franchise of Baskin Robbins ice-creams.
 
Charturvedi said the global slowdown and higher commodities prices, especially sugar prices, are affecting margins by 2%-3%, which his company has to bear.
 
Other food product companies are also finding it difficult to survive due to cost pressures and may be forced to hike prices in the near future, most possibly after Diwali, said a market source.
 
Baskin Robbins has also tied up with Eros International PLC, for their upcoming movie Aladin and is launching three new flavours based on the movie theme. The new flavours titled “Choc ‘aladin”, “Princess’Delite” and “Ringmaster’s Whip” are based on the characters from the movie.
 
The ice-cream maker, which has about 370 stores across 65 cities in India, plans to add another 100 stores in the current financial year, Chaturvedi added.
– Pallabika Ganguly  [email protected]

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