Despite record earnings from export in 2016, cashew nuts exporters are struggling to meet targets for this year due to a shortage of raw materials.
The General Statistics Office reported that the total cashew nut exports hit 18,000 tonnes in January 2017 with total value of US$164,000, down 27.8 percent in volume and 12.6 percent in value year-on-year.
Vietnam exported a record 347,000 tonnes of cashew nuts last year, earning US$2.84 billion, up 5.6 percent in volume and 18.4 percent in value annually. However, domestic processors had to import more than 1.1 million tonnes of material cashew for processing. The dependence on imported materials poses difficulties for the sector in ensuring product quality and food safety.
According to Bach Khanh Nhut, deputy director of Vinacontrol, the quality of raw cashew imported from Africa in 2016 degraded remarkable from the previous year, inflicting heavy losses on local processors.
Secretary General of the Vietnam Cashew Association Dang Hoang Giang urged processors to invest in drying facilities and equipment to improve the quality of products.
Meanwhile, it is forecast that 2017 will see the ENSO phenomenon (a combination of El Nino and La Nina) and shorter dry season, which will cause an alarming decease in cashew output this year.
Therefore, to meet the target of US$3 billion from cashew nut exports this year, up US$160 million from 2016, processors would have to increase the volume of imported raw cashews to 1.3 million tonnes.
Chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association Nguyen Duc Thanh advised the sector, especially cashew trading firms, to instruct farmers on intensive cashew farming to enhance output and quality while linking up with the State, scientists, business partners and farmers to develop sustainable material growing zones, as well as strengthening ties with international nut associations.
The US is the largest importer of Vietnamese processed cashew nuts, accounting for 35 percent of the total. Europe makes up 25 percent, followed by China with 18 percent. VNA