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Cashew industry targets $1.5b in exports

Update: March, 01/2012 - 10:17

 

Workers at Nhat Huy Company in southern Binh Duong Province process cashew nuts for export. The cashew industry plans to export 170,000 tonnes of cashew nuts, worth US$1.5 billion this year, up 11.1 per cent over last year. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HCM CITY—The cashew industry has set a modest target of exporting 170,000 tonnes of cashew nuts worth US$1.5 billion this year, up 11.1 per cent over last year, as it anticipates difficulties ahead, according to the Viet Nam Cashew Association (Vinacas).

Last year Viet Nam exported 166,109 tonnes of cashew nuts, earning $1.35 billion, a drop of 16.46 per cent in volume but an increase of 20.13 per cent in value.

The US remained the biggest importer of Vietnamese cashews, followed by the EU and Asia. China is the largest importer of Vietnamese cashews in Asia.

However, cashew processors and exporters are facing many difficulties this year, including a shortage of working capital and labour, and a fall in overseas demand, according to Vinacas Chairman Nguyen Thai Hoc, who spoke at a conference held in HCM City yesterday.

The ongoing economic crisis has hit global consumption demand, especially in the EU, leading to high inventories and a drop in prices.

In addition, India, the world's largest cashew producer and exporter, may increase exports this year because its domestic cashew consumption has fallen.

This would affect Viet Nam's cashew exports as well as the global cashew price.

A labour shortage and capital also continue to be problems for cashew processing and exporting firms.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, Vinacas deputy chairman, said that, with the current severe shortage of labourers, the target of exporting 170,000 tonnes of cashew could not be done if the industry did not have appropriate measures to solve the issue.

Although processing firms were equipped with automatic peeling machines, companies would need a large amount of workers in certain stages during the processing work.

Enterprises exported only 14,000 tonnes of cashew worth $107 million from January 1 to February 15, a low amount compared to the same period last year.

The average export price for the period has also been quite low, compared to the same period last year, according to Thanh.

Therefore, the export target set for this year of $1.5 billion would be hard to reach, he said.

Nguyen Van Chieu, general director of Long An Food Processing Export JS Company, said demand for cashews from China drops every year after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Exports to the EU market have fallen due to the economic crisis there.

"This time is the most difficult time for cashew exports, but prices are expected to improve from the second quarter of the year," he said.

Dang Hoang Giang, the association's general secretary, said many trade promotion activities would be carried out this year, including a customer conference in Nha Trang next May to help its members maintain exports.

The association plans to petition the Government and the State Bank of Viet Nam to seek measures to solve capital difficulties faced by enterprises.

Hoc said the cashew industry this year would focus more on improving quality and less on quantity growth in cashew exports.

The association plans to collect its members' ideas on imposing eligibility conditions on cashew exporters. This proposal would be submitted to the Government for approval.

This year, the volume of raw cashew imports is expected to be lower than last year, to around 250,000-300,000 tonnes, according to Thanh. —VNS

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