Vietnam has maintained its position as the world’s largest producer and exporter of cashew nuts in 2020, exporting an estimated 450,000 tonnes of cashew kernels worth 3.2 billion USD, according to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas).
The information was revealed by the association at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on November 23 to mark its 30th founding anniversary.
This year, Vietnam also remains the world’s biggest importer of raw cashew nuts, purchasing about 1.3 million tonnes from overseas.
Data by Vinacas shows that Vietnam began to ship cashew kernels abroad in 1990 after the association was founded. The country exported 286 tonnes of cashew kernels for 1.4 million USD that year. In 2004, the volume increased to 105,000 tonnes, worth approximately 436 million USD.
In 2006, Vietnam surpassed India for the first time as the world’s top exporter of cashew kernels, with an export volume of 127,000 tonnes worth 504 million USD.
Since 2017, Vietnam has retained its position as the world’s biggest hub for cashew processing and the largest exporter and importer of the product, accounting for over 50 percent of the global processed cashew nuts.
The industry has been hit by COVID-19 since the beginning of this year. Though cashew kernel exports reached more than 422,000 tonnes in the first 10 months of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 12 percent, the 10-month revenue dropped 3 percent to over 2.6 billion USD.
Although holding the title of “the world’s No 1 exporter”, Vietnam has still mainly exported semi-processed cashew nuts, which are sold at an average price of 10 USD per kilogramme, while finished products sold at supermarkets globally cost about 30 USD per kilogramme.
Vinacas Vice Chairman Nguyen Minh Hoa said the sector has been under enormous pressure from new policies of major suppliers and importers. African countries, which have been key suppliers of raw cashew nuts to Vietnam for years, are boosting the development of their domestic cashew processing industry, he said.
India, one of the world’s largest cashew nut consumption markets, is applying a tax policy to limit the amount of imported cashew nuts, mainly from Vietnam, he continued, adding that other key buyers such as the US and EU are also setting out additional food safety standards on cashew kernels from Vietnam.
Vinacas Chairman Pham Van Cong said these provide Vietnam with not only challenges but also opportunities which would encourage domestic manufacturers to restructure, upgrade technology and improve management capacity to climb up the global supply chain of cashew nuts.
It is important to develop a proper strategy for the cashew sector that facilitates shift from preliminary processing to production of final products sold in supermarkets, he said.
Cong further noted that Vinacas is formulating a strategy for the development of Vietnam’s cashew industry in the new context, to be proposed to the government in the near future.