Explore the Reasons Behind the Soaring Prices of Turmeric on the Futures Market and Spot Market




Turmeric prices have soared to a new high on the futures market and prices in the spot market have surged in tandem over the past few weeks. The spices industry and traders blame speculation for the current trend. 

On Tuesday, turmeric December contracts opened over ₹18,000 a quintal before settling at ₹17,680. According to NCDEX, the spot prices for the farmer polished variety at Nizamabad, Telangana, were ₹14,412.25. The superior Rajapur variety at Sangli in Maharashtra was ₹17,054.40.

Jeera players?

“Speculation has crept in turmeric, including the spot market. Even those who have nothing to do with turmeric have begun stocking up the spice. People who normally trade in jeera (cumin) and dhaniya (coriander) have all entered turmeric,” said Ankit Agarwal, Director at the Erode-based Amar Agarwal Foods India Pvt Ltd. 

“There are no fundamentals behind turmeric’s current surge. The crop acreage is reportedly lower but demand is also taking a hit. Prices have doubled at one go,” said RKV Ravishankar, President, Erode Turmeric Merchants Association. 

“Speculators who reaped gains in jeera have now shifted their focus to turmeric. Prices of cardamom, cloves are all rising because of this,” said Sunil Patil, Proprietor, Varadlaxmi Trading Company from Sangli in Maharashtra. 

Fears of lower area

“It is a fact that people not involved in turmeric trade are indulging in speculation, leading to lack of capital in the spot market,” said Nizamabad-based trader Poonam Chand Gupta. 

“We have people who have nothing to do with turmeric trade calling us and asking us to provide stocks,” Agarwal said. 

“At the most, hardly 30 per cent of genuine traders are in the market now. What makes us wonder is that there has been no correction to the rally at all in the spot market,” said Ravishankar. 

“Prices have gone up on fears that the acreage under turmeric could be down sharply. But speculators are putting the decline at 40 per cent. At the most there could be 20 per cent decline,” said Patil.  

During Covid, turmeric prices had declined to ₹5,000-6,000 a quintal. “Then, we did not witness any sharp drop in the acreage. It is unlikely to happen now,” he said.

Early Ramzan

Agarwal said one reason for turmeric prices soaring could be some are taking into account Ramzan being celebrated in March 2024. “Ramzan orders for masala come at least a month-and-a-half ahead. It means export demand from the Gulf, Iran, and Bangladesh could come in early January but the Nizamabad crop will arrive in February,” he said.

He indicated that the current bullish run will continue till the year-end. “But some correction will creep in before prices start moving up again, maybe, targeting ₹20,000,” he said. 

“Prices could drop by ₹2,000 soon before rising another ₹4,000,” said Patil. 

“Turmeric has gained because people foresee a shortage of material in 2024,” he said, adding that export and domestic demand are currently slack.

“Demand has slowed at current spot prices of ₹160 a kg. It takes ₹20 to process a kg of turmeric and I find no buyers at ₹180 for the power,” the Varadlaxmi Trading company proprietor said. 

‘Unjustified bull run’

Agarwal said turmeric production may decline  to 70-75 lakh bags (50 kg each) in 2024. “Against a demand of 1.1 crore bags, including exports, there will be a supply shortage. That’s why we see people driving prices towards ₹20,000,” he said. 

“It is a fact that prices are being raised now itself for a possible shortage next year,” said the Erode Turmeric Merchants Association President. 

But Patil has another angle to the shortage. “We had a carryover stock of 35 lakh bags from 2022. That could be down to 15 lakh bags in 2024. Even if production drops by 20 per cent, we should be able to manage with a 10-15 lakh bags shortage. So, the current bullish run is not justified,” he said. 

This year, sowing of turmeric was initially affected due to the delay in the south-west monsoon setting in. “Then, when the seed germinated and the plant was 7-8 days old, rains flooded the farms. This may affect the crop,” said Agarwal.

Other concern

The other concern expressed by the industry and trade is that farmers have not saved turmeric for seeds and this could cause some shortage and further push prices higher. 

Agarwal said prices could top ₹20,000 by January or will rule at that level then. Patil said a clear picture on the turmeric crop will be available in September and it will decide the direction of prices. 


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