Rain in Turkey and Greece has triggered near panic in the dried fruit markets and caused a sharp rise in prices. Uncertainty surrounds the Turkish sultana crop both in size and quality. Some in the trade are not discounting a volume below 200,000 tonnes. Prices have responded accordingly with hikes of around $150 per tonne. Turkish fig prices have also risen. New crop no 6 leridas are priced at around $2,500/tonne fob Izmir. The Greek currant industry is increasingly nervous due to the regular rains in September. Higher prices for European dried fruit may cause buyers to look for alternative crops from different origins which may benefit the US raisin market. Raisin prices are steady at about 44c/pound c&f Felixstowe. n subsidy cut The European Commission has cut export subsidy for whole milk powder by 9% in a bid to curb price rises. The Commission is also preparing for the sale of skim milk powder from the public stockpile of 145,000 tonnes, built up in intervention between March and August this year. This dramatic turnaround appears to be due, in part, to a revival in demand from markets in the Pacific Region and the Middle East, coinciding with the low period of output in Australia and New Zealand. n GOATS SOURCE Delamere Dairies has acquired a touch of TV glamour with its latest customer Antony Worrall Thompson. The celebrity chef visited the 1,000-strong goat herd of Liz and Roger Sutton at Knutsford, Cheshire, to source goats milk to use for luxury yogurts in his new food range. "Worrall Thompson is associated with good, quality food, produced to the highest standards. We are delighted to be working with him," said Liz. n POOR ITALIAN PACK As the Italian tomato pack comes to a halt, after one of the worst crops for years, talks have taken place to ensure contracts are treated fairly. As one UK importer said: "Contracts will be reduced under a 'force majeure' clause, but to date no one knows to what extent." Sources in Naples denied the suggestion that UK buyers would suffer a 50% cut, but no-one denies it is going to be a difficult time ahead. Retail prices are going up again to match the higher new season costs. n PILCHARDS BETTER Some improvements in pilchard fishing has been reported by South African producers but it will take some time for things to return to normal. UK importers have been purchasing product from Morocco, but the fish size has made production of 'jitneys' impossible. There has been some talk of South Africa letting Namibian fishermen out onto their waters but nothing has yet been finalised. {{MARKET EDGE }}