Vietnam’s cashew problem: A tough nut to crack

10:28 | 13/07/2017 Trade

(VEN) - Vietnam’s cashew processing enterprises need far more nits than the country grows and are therefore forced to import large quantities.

Reduced volume, increased value

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, cashew exports in May 2017 reached 28,000 tonnes and brought in US$275 million, bringing total export volume in the first five months of the year to 112,000 tonnes with a total value of US$1.1 billion. This represents a drop of 9.5 percent in volume and an increase of 12.8 percent in value compared to a year ago.

Average price of cashew nuts in the first four months of 2017 reached US$9,407 per tonne, an increase of 24 percent over the same period in 2016. The US, the Netherlands and China continued to be Vietnam’s three largest cashew importers, accounting for 35.3 percent, 14.8 percent and 13.5 percent of the country’s total export value of cashew nuts.

The Vietnamese cashew sector strives to export 360,000 tonnes of all kinds of cashew nuts in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 2.8 percent. Export turnover of cashew nuts is expected to reach US$3.3 billion this year, an increase of five percent compared to last year. If the results meet expectations, this will be the 12th consecutive year that the Vietnamese cashew sector holds a leading position in exports.

Developing material sources

According to statistics, domestic raw cashew nuts only meet less than one-third of demand of more than 300 processing enterprises, so that they have to import the nuts.

About 96,000 tonnes of cashew nuts were imported in May 2017 at US$179 million, bringing total import volume in the first five months of 2017 to 366,000 tonnes with a total value of US$721 million. This represents an increase of 49.3 percent in volume and an almost doubling (94.3 percent) of value compared to a year ago.

Material sources remain a problem for Vietnam’s cashew sector. Binh Phuoc Province expects to produce 150,000 tonnes of cashew nuts this year. In the provinces of Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Thuan, cashew growing areas are suffering due to weather abnormalities.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, domestic cashew output could see a decline of 100,000-200,000 tonnes this year, forcing enterprises to import additional 700,000-800,000 tonnes of cashew nuts. With the goal of 360,000 tonnes in export volume, Vietnamese cashew exporters will have to make greater efforts.

To meet part of the raw material needs for processing enterprises, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to have 300,000 ha of cashew growing areas by 2020, and bring cashew productivity to around two tonnes per ha.

Lan Anh