US$7bn cashew market still untapped



With an average estimated cashew export earnings of US$350million per annum, Cashew Watch Ghana (CWG) – a civil society organisation – has said the country has yet to fully take advantage of the US$7billion global market.

Cashew Watch Ghana described the current earnings as below potential, emphasising that the country has potential to fetch more than US$660million if government and the private sector capitalise on the current global prospects of the economic tree to promote production, value addition and exports.

The country’s cashew export earnings in 2020, which was US$340million, according to CWG, should only be a starting point to make more progress toward harnessing the full potential of the sector.

With an estimated annual production of between 110,000 and 130,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts, the CWG advocated that more efforts be put in place to enhance production, storage and value addition. If harnessed properly, it said the sector will be able to contribute significantly to not only job creation, but poverty reduction.

Globally, the market size of the nut crop is currently around US$7billion and projected to hit a value of US$10.5billion by 2031, according to CWG.

With the current annual production, the African Cashew Alliance has estimated that about 85 percent of the raw nuts are exported, with the crop, in the past five years, being one of the top non-traditional export commodities of the country.

Despite this, the sector is plagued with many challenges, including low production volumes, poor value chain coordination and inadequate support.

For instance, although there are 14 cashew processing factories nationwide, the majority of them have either shut down or are producing undercapacity due to lack of raw cashew nuts.

Processed cashews offer a variety of products, including snacks, food ingredients, cashew milk, cashew butter, cashew cheese, cream, yoghurt, medicine, powder, oil, skin pomade, biofuel among others.

Notwithstanding the benefits the country enjoys from the cashew value chain, especially export earnings from raw nuts, there are huge untapped opportunities which could be maximised.

The cashew processing sub-sector, which is deemed profitable and accounts for almost half of profits in the industry, comes with several challenges – including labour costs, quality control, energy costs, logistics, price fluctuations, among others.

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