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  • Crunch time for cashew nut lovers as wholesale costs soar

    Aug 11th, 2016

    Cashew nut consumers may face hefty price rises next year, because adverse weather conditions have caused wholesale costs to soar.Prices have rocketed by about 20% this year to about $4.20 (£3.22) a pound, according to traders who buy for the major UK-based processors and packers. The decline in the value of the pound against the dollar since the Brexit vote has also contributed to the price rise, they said.

    Sanjoy Das, chairman of the Edinburgh-based Freeworld Trading, said: “I think the rest of this year is going to be very difficult, but the good news for consumers is that it is not going to affect the Christmas nut market, as supermarkets have already agreed their supplier contracts, and the prices on shelves now and this autumn reflect wholesale prices from September 2015.”

    Cashews are the US and Europe’s favourite nut, but the mostly poor farmers who grow them often bear the greatest risk in the trade. Not only a popular snack, the nut is also a key ingredient in a range of foods such as biscuits, snack bars, cereals, sauces and puddings.Adverse weather in the main grower countries has affected both the quality and quantity of the crop, which could also lead to shortages next year, traders say.

    Vietnam and India are the largest producers and exporters of cashews. Excessive heat and lack of rain linked to El Niño this year affected producers in these regions, while wetter conditions in Ivory Coast led to crop wastage.Vietnam suffered its worst drought in nearly 100 years with record low river flows, and a range of food crops have been decimated.

    Das said the Vietnamese cashew crop was down about 10% this year, and that growers were getting the higher prices they were demanding. “That means our customers – the packers – will lose money. We would not anticipate any shortages or price rises until next year, once the next set of contracts are negotiated.”

    He said the good news for nut lovers was that almonds grown predominantly in California were more affordable than two years ago.