The global cashew kernel market size was USD 6 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 9.5 billion by 2031 at a CAGR of 5% during the forecast period (2023-2031). Compared to peanuts, cashews have a higher proportion of fiber, promoting healthy weight gain by enhancing digestion. The nutritional advantages of cashews over peanuts include their higher iron and magnesium contents, which promote the body's enzymatic processes. Due to the high nutritional value of cashews, snack producers have introduced a variety of cashew-based snacks to fulfill consumer demand, including ready-to-drink cashew milk, a lactose-free milk alternative—the growing demand for flavored cashews and government initiatives fuel the consumption of cashew nuts. With the rising health consciousness among the population, the market for dried fruits and nuts, in general, is growing. Still, this demand is even more vital for cashew, which has specific nutritional features, including vitamin B, antioxidants, and minerals, such as manganese, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
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Initiatives Related to Production Boost
Initiatives helping bolster production have been instrumental in making a strong market for cashew production globally. For instance, to improve processing, primary production, and market linkages along the value chain, the African Cashew Initiative (ACI) was started in 2009. It is a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to help cashew farmers and processors meet international standards in five African countries, namely, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, and Mozambique. Under the same initiative, 20 processing factories, supported by ACI (with Technoserve advisors), have increased their processing capacities and five units increased their installed capacities, while some obtained new equipment, thus driving the cashew kernel market by enhancing the production and processing of cashews in the significant cashew producing countries.
The cashew industry has a vast, vast potential for growth. However, the visibility of equipment and processing technology is the primary factor that hinders potential investors. Thus, the Cotton and Cashew Council is working toward putting the processing equipment manufacturers and investors in direct contact to increase traceability and familiarity with the requirements in the industry. Thus, these initiatives drive the global cashew kernel market, owing to the efficient production and processing facilities globally.
Growing Demand for Healthy Cashew Snacks
Since many years ago, edible cashew kernels have been consumed as snacks and as a primary ingredient in desserts and other dishes, mainly in Asian cuisine. Additionally, cashews are used more frequently in ice cream, energy bars, cookies, and muesli. Nutrients like copper, which helps human bones stay healthy, are found in cashews in high concentrations. India is one of the top cashew-consuming nations due to the nuts' high nutritional value. The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council say that this is driven by inflation in terms of how it is used.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, people who consume nuts more than four times a week can cut their risk of coronary heart disease by 37%. Because of these findings, it is anticipated that more cashews will be used to make snack bars, a low-calorie alternative to chocolate bars with lots of calories. Hence, the cashew kernel market is growing globally due to the increasing consumption of various cashew-based snacks and ready-to-eat foods in developed and emerging nations.
Weather Uncertainties Impending the Cashew Production
The world cashew trade is balanced by the annual cashew production cycle. Poor crops or abnormal weather conditions alter the trade pattern, subsequently affecting the prices. Risks in cashew kernel production exist, due to crop failure, as a result of weather conditions and pest infestation, and price volatility. During the peak harvesting period, raw cashew prices rose by USD 250-300 per metric ton without confirming a real crop shortage situation. Additionally, in Mozambique, in 2017-2018, the RCN crop size was estimated to be close to 105,000 metric tons, as against the earlier assumption of the bumper crop. This further resulted in lower processing and hence, lower resultant output of cashew kernels.
According to the Vietnam Cashew Association (VINACAS), in 2017, the industry struggled to achieve an export turnover of USD 3.00 billion, an upsurge of USD 160.0 million, compared to 2016. However, the output for processing was much lower than anticipated due to abnormal weather conditions. Lastly, growers in most West African countries need financing to maintain the land under cashew and for the harvest (seasonal credit). Since the production depends on the weather (rainfall), there is a real risk that loans may not be repaid. This acts as a constraint for farmers to get loans quickly. All the factors mentioned above affect cashew production and, ultimately, processing, which is excessively dependent on the amount of production.
Increasing Demand for Cashew Kernel in Asia-Pacific
Although the Asia-Pacific region is home to significant cashew-producing nations like Vietnam and India, the region has a long history of importation of cashew kernel. As imports of shelled cashews from China, Japan, Thailand, and India increased exponentially from 2016 to 2018, the demand for cashews in the region has continued to rise. Following the promotion of "guilt-free" foods and snacks, including cashew kernel, Japan has seen a rise in the consumption of this food. This has further encouraged consumers to gradually change their snacking habits to include healthier options, like roasted cashew. Although Thailand and India are the major cashew processing countries, cashew imports grew steadily owing to the domestic demand surpassing the supply in recent years. According to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, India's estimated per capita consumption increased to 0.24 kilograms per year in 2018 from 0.19 kilograms in 2017. Moreover, the total food and beverage retail sales In Thailand increased to USD 54.2 billion, an increase of 6.7% from 2016, fueled by the rising demand for healthier ready-to-eat snacks, including cashew kernel, almond, and dried fruits. So, the cashew kernel market is likely to be driven by the rising demand for cashew kernels in the Asia-Pacific region over the next few years.
The global cashew kernel market is segmented by grade and region.
By grade, the global cashew kernel market is segmented into white wholes, scorched wholes, white pieces, scorched pieces, dessert wholes, and dessert pieces. The white wholes dominated the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% during the forecast period. The most accepted grades in the market are WW-180, WW-240WW-210, and WW-320. There are currently no automated systems on the market to grade the white wholes segment and estimate the common characteristics, like color and geometry. White kernels are primarily exported from Côte d'Ivoire to Europe, the US, and Canada. The best cashew kernels, known as whole whites, are consumed as natural, roasted, or flavored snacks. They are primarily used in confections and baking. Global demand for kernels increased due to rising consumption and increased health consciousness. Manufacturers increased their output of premium whole white kernels as a result. Kernels exported to the United States are categorized based on quality and grade. First-quality fancy includes white cashew kernels available whole in size. The improved standard of living with increased purchasing power is responsible for the country's high demand for these kernels. There are six varieties of whole white kernels in India: WW- 180, WW-210, WW-240, WW-320, WW-500, and WW 450. As a significant exporter of cashew kernels to other countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, the production of these kernels is carried out with precision to maintain the quality of kernels for exports. As a result, the global production of white wholes increased due to the demand for high-quality kernels. The white wholes segment is anticipated to be driven by this during the forecast period.
The scorched wholes segment is the second largest. Cashews in this grade must be completely free of infestation, insect damage, and mold to access the market price. The common grades are SW-180, SW-210, SW-240, SW-320, SW-500, and SW-450. Due to the lack of prices in the public domain, EU buyers typically base their prices for scorched wholes grade cashews on online auctions. Scorched kernels are primarily exported from Côte d'Ivoire to Morocco. Because the kernels were roasted for a longer period, scorched wholes have a light brown color. They share the same nutritional value and all the traits of whole kernels. These are employed in baking confections. Due to the enhanced roasted flavor of the kernels, consumers prefer them as snacks. As a major producer of cashew kernels, Brazil has specifications regarding the quality of the whole variety. Scorched kernels with a light brown color are Brazil's second quality. The increasing demand for cashew nuts created a demand for second-quality nuts. Because of the cost sensitivity of consumers in nations with low purchasing potential, the scorched variety is widely used. The increasing global demand and relatively low price of scorched variety are expected to drive this segment during the forecast period.
By region, the global cashew kernel market is segmented into Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, and Africa.
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Asia-Pacific dominated the market and is estimated to register a CAGR of 4.2% during the forecast period. According to the Food and Agriculture statistics, in 2019, cashew kernel production in China amounted to approximately 44 metric tons. The production slightly increased from 32 metric tons in 2016 to 39 metric tons in 2017. However, due to unfavorable climatic conditions in the country, production may not register considerable growth in the coming years. The major cashew-producing areas are distributed in the coastal regions of Ledong Lingshui, Dongfang, and Sanya of the Hainan Province. Scattered cultivations are also found in Wanning and Wenchang of Hainan, along with trial plantings in Xishuangbanna and Gejui in the Yunnan Province. The domestic production of kernels in the country is deficient, and the country relies heavily on the imports of kernels to meet the domestic demand. Since the past decade, Vietnam has been China's largest cashew kernel supplier. Therefore, due to the country's unfavorable conditions for cashew production, the production is anticipated to register slow growth during the forecast period.
Europe is the second largest region. It is anticipated to register a CAGR of 3.5% during the forecast period. Germany is the largest consumer of cashew kernels in the European Union. The demand for cashew as snacks in Germany is seasonal, increasing in the winter and falling during the summer seasons. According to the International Nuts and Dried Fruit Council, Germany had the highest per capita consumption globally, with an estimated 1.7 kg/year in 2017. The growing trend of healthy snacking has made more people want to eat cashew nuts. Recently, cashew nuts are also increasingly being utilized as an ingredient in spreads and snack bars. In Germany, cashew kernels are primarily used as a roasted-and-salted snack. In the end-user food and beverage industry, where the demand for pieces and broken kernels is derived from the expanding food industry, there has been an increase in the application of kernels. Cashew nuts have recently attracted the attention of industrial users, who use them in cereals, cookies, ice cream toppings, and the production of cashew nut butter. As a result, the growing demand for cashews from the processing sector is driving up cashew kernel consumption in Germany.
North America is the third largest region. Because of the high growth rate of imported cashew kernel prices, the market value is anticipated to increase at a higher rate than the consumption volume. Cashew consumption is prim in a few states, like California, Texas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey. In the United States, consumers buy organic food because it is healthier. Hence, the overall demand for organic nuts, including cashews, continues to grow in the country, thereby increasing the demand for cashews. Kernel cashews are increasingly being used in the nation's end-user food market. Kernels from cashew nuts, for instance, are used in snacks. Over 60% of the demand for cashews comes from snacks alone. During the time frame of the forecast, the country's snack market is expected to grow, which could lead to a rise in cashew imports.
Additionally, raw or roasted cashew kernels are also used to make cashew butter, a substitute for peanut butter for people with peanut allergies. Bulk Nation USA, Bassé Nuts, Once Again, and Georgia Grinders are a few businesses that produce cashew butter in the United States. Hence, the growing demand for cashews from the processing industry further fuels the consumption of cashew kernel in the country.
Key players in the global cashew kernel market are Nutsco Inc., Alphonsa Cashew Industries, DVK Group, Prime Nuts FZE, Vietnam Cashew Processing Co., Olam International Limited, Bismi Cashew Company, and others.