Việt Nam imported nearly 1.2 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth US$1.9 billion in the first four months of this year, increases of 300 per cent and 323.5 per cent year-on-year, respectively, according to the General Statistics Office.
The volume neared the total posted in 2020, of 1.45 million tonnes, and at the current rate, this year’s imports could exceed the 1.8 million tonnes planned by the Vietnam Cashew Association (VINACAS).
VINACAS attributed the surge in raw cashew imports over recent months to the fact that exports have maintained stable growth while domestic supply has been lacking.
Abnormal weather conditions also resulted in the harvest being a month later than usual. Heavy rains during the harvest season in cashew farming centres like the southern provinces of Bình Phước and Đồng Nai also hampered the drying process, affecting quality, the association added.
Businesses said they had faced a shortage of raw materials in recent years and to ensure supply for export processing had to increase imports even though import prices were rising.
Cambodia is the largest supplier of raw cashews to Việt Nam, making up 60 per cent of the total. Imports from African countries such as Tanzania, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria have also risen sharply over recent months.
While import prices of raw cashews from most foreign suppliers fell during the first four months, the price of unprocessed nuts from Cambodia soared 26.2 per cent year-on-year.
As Cambodia’s raw cashews account for the majority of the volume imported into Việt Nam, the average import price reached US$1,580 per tonne in the four-month period, up 5.8 per cent year-on-year.
Explaining the rising import volume from Cambodia, one processing company in Bình Phước Province said the transportation of cashews harvested in the previous crop encountered difficulties since late 2020, including a shortage of cargo containers and higher sea freight costs. Meanwhile, Cambodia has finished harvesting its new crop and its cashews can be easily delivered to Việt Nam by road.
Also, as African countries have only recently completed their harvest and exporters are still preparing their packaging and making customs declarations, cashews from the continent won’t arrive until the second half of May.
According to the African Cashew Alliance, global cashew demand will continue growing strongly in 2021, especially in Europe and the US, which recorded growth rates of 17 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, in cashew consumption last year despite COVID-19.
In the first four months of 2021, Việt Nam earned $894 million from shipping 152,000 tonnes of cashew nuts abroad, down 7.4 per cent in value but up 8.6 per cent in volume year-on-year.
The country remains the world’s leading cashew exporter, but falling export prices are likely to lower profit margins, VINACAS predicted. — VNS