Việt Nam achieved its highest ever cashew exports in a year in 2017 with shipments worth US$3.52 billion.
It exported 353,000 tonnes, representing a year-on- year increase of 23.8 per cent in value and 1.9 per cent in volume, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The US, the Netherlands and China remained the biggest buyers, accounting for 35 per cent, 15.6 per cent and 12.9 per cent of the shipments.
Exports to many markets rose sharply, including Russia (up 56.3 per cent), the Netherlands (44.7 per cent), Thailand (41.4 per cent), the US (27 per cent), and the UK (24.8 per cent).
Average export prices were up by over 22 per cent.
While demand rose in the world market, supply was down significantly in many countries, including Việt Nam, pushing prices up, according to cashew companies.
Demand is expected to continue increasing, enabling Vietnamese firms to boost exports in future, according to the Việt Nam Cashew Association (Vinacas).
Vietnamese processors have worked relentlessly to improve their quality, promote their brands and maintain their prestige, and this has played a very important role in the development of the cashew industry, the association said.
Việt Nam has leading processing technologies, it said.
Nguyễn Đức Thanh, Vinacas’ chairman, said despite being the world’s biggest cashew processor and exporter, the industry’s profits are modest.
Vietnamese firms mostly exported at around $10 a kilogramme last year while value-added cashew products were sold at supermarkets abroad at up to $30.
To improve the situation, more and more firms have invested in modern technologies and machinery to make more value-added cashew products, including salted/honey roasted nuts and wasabi- and chocolate-coated nuts.
A number of companies from the US and Singapore have also invested in processing facilities to make value-added cashew products in Việt Nam, he said.
The association as well as businesses in the sector said the current reliance on raw cashew imports is a great risk to the cashew industry.
Local raw cashew supply only meets 20 -35 per cent of demand.
In the first 11 months of last year, companies imported 1.2 million tonnes of cashew, up 27.4 per cent year-on-year, mainly from African countries, with the import prices up by 26.2 per cent last year.
Thanh said the association has collaborated with the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Cambodian firms to grow 1 million tonnes of cashew on an area of 500,000 hectares by 2022.
Vinacas and its members would buy the entire output and work closely with the Cambodian partners to speed up the project, he said.
For this year, the cashew industry has set a target of reducing exports to 300,000 tonnes while improving the quality of exports and adding value to their products. — VNS