G.K. Nair

Kochi, Aug 31

THE delayed cashew crop in Brazil and Indonesia is likely to push up demand for Indian cashew kernel this year in the world market. This could result in cashew exports topping last fiscal's level.

"The delay would result in decline in production globally," cashew industry sources in Kollam told Business Line on Wednesday.

They said the packers and roasters, who import cashew kernel from Brazil and Indonesia, might not be able to wait for the shipments from these sources and hence a part of their demand was likely to come to India.

After a three-month decline in the world market, the demand has started picking up. The prices have also moved up to $2.35 a pound (lb) from $2.25, they said. Add to this, the price of almond is ruling high and this would also contribute to an upsurge in the demand for cashew kernels.

Given this scenario, export performance this fiscal would be better than last year, the sources said.

During April-July 2005, exports stood at 42,402 tonnes valued at Rs 962.57 crore, against 41,691 tonnes worth Rs 802.13 crore in the same period last year.

In 2004-05, for the first time in cashew trade, kernel exports achieved a record high of Rs 2,709.24 crore with 1,26,667 tonnes being shipped against 1,00,828 tonnes valued at Rs 1,804.43 crore in 2003-04.

India has the major share of the world market with around 60 per cent, followed by Brazil with 31 per cent. Meanwhile, the US tops with 55 per cent of the total global imports followed by the Netherlands with 10 per cent, Germany 7 per cent, Japan and the UK 5 per cent each.

The sources at Kollam, the home for Indian cashew processing and exporting, said as per the information available from the US "consumption of cashew in the US had continued to rise and was expected to continue to do so with positive health reports and beneficial diets." As a result, last year the consumption of nuts in the US was at its highest level ever with £225 - 230 million. "Many attribute this increase to the health reports published advising consumers that cashews may reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 per cent."

Besides, the fact that cashew kernels are high in protein and low in carbohydrates has also paved the way for making it a favourable nut for dieters, the sources said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 1, 2005)
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