Cashew sector hopeful of good times

Labourers grading cashew nuts at a processing unit in Kollam   | Photo Credit: C. Sureshkumar

With a visible increase in sales and global consumption patterns, the cashew sector may be finally looking towards brighter prospects. According to industry stakeholders, there has been a spike in demand which is likely to go up considering its newly-found status in the post-pandemic diet. A rise in awareness about healthy, nutritious food options has provided a much-needed boost to the industry and the trend is expected to continue.

According to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, despite the COVID-19 related disruptions, global demand remained solid in 2020-21 “with most tree nut exports showing increments compared to the prior season and even hitting record international shipments”.

Production too up

The council also forecasts an increase, though marginal, in cashew production after the northern hemisphere harvest. “That means there will be a stable supply of cashew and the consumption too is going well. The global demand never dipped though production was hit during the lockdown. In the post-pandemic world more people are switching to healthier food options like cashew,” says Prathap Nair of VLC Cashews, who is also the council’s representative in India.

During the first wave of COVID-19 there was an alarming fall in demand due to the cancellation of public events, celebrations, and weddings. “But now the domestic market has rebounded and during the pandemic the health benefits of cashew were widely discussed. Now the nut consumption in India in general is getting back to pre-pandemic level. Both domestic and global demand are good now,” adds Mr. Nair.

The struggle

Meanwhile, many small and medium processing units in the State are still struggling to survive. High production cost compared to other States and shortage of raw material had forced many units to down shutters. “Our export volume has come down drastically over five years due to multiple issues. Other than the competition from Vietnam, many nut producing African countries have now started processing,” says S. Jayamohan, former chairman of Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC).

Dwindling numbers

He adds that increasing domestic raw nut production is also very important to revive the industry. “There used to be 2.5 lakh cashew labourers. Now the figure has gone below 70,000.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 1:44:17 PM |

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