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  • A Curtain Raiser on Global Cashew Industry Kees Blokland, Global Trading Agency, the Netherlands

    Jul 1st, 2016

    The cashew industry is very healthy at the moment and we expect demand will grow faster than supply so that we look forward to a bright future. It is very good that the worldwide industry is working together now in good cooperation within the Global Cashew Council, guaranteeing a one-voice approach to the international market.Getting worldwide accepted standards will make the market more transparent and competitive. Obviously the processing units will make the difference. Investment in certification or food safety improvements will make the difference and pay their price.

    Transparency is the most important for the cashew industry. Create traceable and sustainable supply chains is the key to success. Although this is still difficult in today’s market. A lot of product comes from Africa and is processed in Vietnam, losing its identity, it should be our mutual goal to create this traceability and with that a sustainable chain from farmer to processor & consumer.Supply is stabilising in India, becoming slightly lower in Vietnam and Brazil but growing fast in Africa, mainly West Africa. Ivory Coast is having very nice planting programs, support from government, guaranteeing a worldwide –necessary- increase of world supply.

    Consumers are becoming more and more interested in nuts overall. The health claims published are having a very positive impact on consumers who are using nuts (including cashew nuts) in their daily diet. Promotion, based on very reliable research, is creating awareness and triggering consumers to use nuts as a snack but also as healthy ingredient in many different dishes. The consumer is requiring more and more knowledge of the food they eat. They want to know where it is grown, where processed and how it is distributed. One of the goals of the 3S program developed by IDH and private partners is to assure this requested traceability.The continuous support of international organisations as USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates foundations, IDH etc are showing the positive interest of various NGO’s & governments to support the growing cashew industry.

    As Global Trading & Agency BV, we are very proud to be part of this chain for over 20 years now. Started as a broker, our heart was in Africa already to see how we could make it work to increase processing in Africa, while 40-45% of total world production is coming from Africa and only 10% of that is processed locally. With support from private stakeholders, various NGO’s and governments, ACA could be set up. African Cashew Alliance is playing a very important role these days in the African industry. The support and annual conference are valuable. The stakeholders are aware of the great opportunities in Africa, although this is not always easy. Difference in culture, language and business environment are sometimes giving trouble/hurdles to take, but the employment created is of great additional value to local economies. As most of those factories are relatively new, most of them are built already to be ready for future and implementation of food safety requirements. As US and Europe are the most important customers for African cashew nut kernels, this is important and required to create a long term sustainable supply/demand chain.

    Another key word for the cashew industry is mechanisation. With the increasing labour costs in most processing countries, the process needs to be mechanized to stay competitive in the world of nuts & dried fruits. Also food safety requires less people ‘touching’ the nut. Over the past decade we have seen significant improvements in shelling and peeling techniques. Where we experienced a lot of breakage 5-10 years ago, the percentages are much lower now. The back side of this is that with the higher broken percentage, a new market for brokens was developed. Now the techniques have improved, the demand for brokens is still there but supply is lower and thus prices increased significantly. Over the past year, prices of wholes were stable, between USD 3.30-3.50 per lbs but prices of pieces doubled from USD 1.50-1.60 per lbs to USD 2.90-3.00 per lbs. The gap between pieces and wholes narrowed and this is expected to remain as those are two different markets.

    All in all we see a bright future for the cashew market. We are very happy to be part of the chain in developing and trading this beautiful nut.