Cashew nut prices have hit the roof and seem to be on a sustained rally due to crop shortfall in Vietnam. Traders said that the rally is scary as market prices have crossed $5 per pound and touched a record high of $5.35-5.50. India produces 6-7 million tonne raw cashew per annum and was till recently the leading supplier of kernels to the global markets.
“Shortfall in the nut crop in Vietnam and Cambodia has affected the market sentiments. The shortfall is reported to be about 40% but the market is reacting to it in a scary way. Prices are at historic high and demand seems to be still resilient,” said Pratap Nair of Vijayalakshmi Cashews. Demand is robust for cashew nuts despite competing nuts like almonds and hazel nuts selling at a discount, he added.
“In the last 2-3 weeks, prices have surged to highs never seen before. Even broken grades, which were stagnant for several months, moved up sharply. There has been good demand from all markets for May to July shipments with some buyers covering some quantity for later positions also. Current levels are W240 from $5.35 to 5.50 per lb, W320 from $5.00 to 5.15, W450 from $4.75 to 4.85, splits from $4.00 to 4.10, pieces from $3.40 to 3.50 FOB,” said Pankaj Sampat of Mumbai-based Samson’s Trading.
Pankaj estimates that the crop shortage globally to be around 35-40%, or approximately 1,25,000-1,50,000 tonne. “African crops seem to be normal but kernel yields are low. Usual logistic issues continue. Strong competition has meant that prices have been going up since the beginning of the season. Indian crop is normal but not much of a factor for kernel exporters as almost all of it is bought by small, regional processors who cater to domestic market. Indian crop is only important when it is short because the regional processors will need more imported raw nuts,” he added.
In the last 18 months, cashew market has gone up $3.55-3.70 to $5.00-5.10 – a gradual rise of over 35% with occasional small dips. During these 18 months, each spurt has ended at a higher level. Raw cashews are priced higher – about 30% compared to the same time last year – and are at 10% high since the beginning of 2017 season.
Traders were expecting the demand to slip due to high prices but surprisingly, in the last 4 months, the market has surpassed the previous peak of 5.00 seen briefly in October 2016, Pankaj said. According to market reports, nut ingredients market, in terms of volume, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2014 to 2019.