Vietnam promises export of safe nut products

Michael Waring, vice chairman of the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation (INC), said: “The global nut industry has increased in both production and consumption tremendously in the past 10 years.

“The cashew industry has a very significant role in the international nut trade.”

Demand is expected to continue increasing because consumers are increasingly aware of the nut’s health benefits, he said.

Nguyen Duy Tuan, market research expert at Lafooco, said: “Supply growth may not be able to catch up with demand growth.”

Demand from high-income countries is rising, he added.

Waring said to capitalise on the opportunity, the sector needs to prepare the supply chain.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, chairman of the Viet Nam Cashew Association, said: “Viet Nam has pledged to supply cashew products meeting safety standards.”

It would not supply GMO cashew or products with mould, micro-organisms or pesticides and chemical fertilisers in the Vietnamese and the global warning lists, he said. It would not use forced labour, he said.

Talking about development plans for the period up to 2020, he said the sector plans to increase the area under cashew from 400,000ha to 500,000. It includes 65,000ha in Cambodia.

The industry would also apply intensive farming methods to raise productivity to reduce the reliance on import of raw cashew, he said.

Thanh and many other delegates agreed that the reliance on imports is the biggest challenge facing the sector.

Raw cashew imports

Viet Nam imported 1.2 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts in the first 10 month of the year, higher than the figure for the whole of last year of 1.14 million tonnes. The number is expected to rise to 1.3 million tonnes for the full year, with imports from African countries accounting for 90.7 per cent, Bach Khanh Nhat, director of quality checking company, Vinacontrol, said.

He said the quality of imports from Africa is better now than last year, but urged suppliers to focus further on improving quality.

Wayne Tilton, vice president, African Cashew Alliance’s board of directors, said: “Africa accounts for 56 per cent of the global raw cashew nut production, but processes less than 5 per cent of the global crop.”

It wants to co-operate with Vinacas to develop its cashew sector, including learning innovative methods of processing by-products from Viet Nam, he said.

Vinacas yesterday signed memorandums of understanding with the Guinea Bissau Chamber of Commerce, African Cashew Alliance and the National Cashew Association of Nigeria to mutually develop their cashew industries.

Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh hailed the achievements of the country’s cashew industry, saying the sector contributes greatly to economic development and provides more than 900,000 jobs.

Viet Nam accounts for half of all world’s cashew exports, and has been the leading exporter for 12 years.

Its cashew products are exported to 90 countries and territories, with the US, Europe, and China being the main markets.

According to statistics from the Viet Nam Industry and Trade Information Centre, 294,000 tonnes of cashew worth US$2.98 billion were exported in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 0.4 per cent in volume and 25.6 per cent in value year-on-year.

Thanh said full-year exports would rise to $3.5 billion, the highest value ever.

Organised by Vinacas and the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency, the two-day conference has attracted more than 500 local and foreign delegates from 40 countries and territories.

It seeks to promote trade and expand markets for cashew products, help cashew growers and processing firms increase their revenues, and develop the industry sustainably. — VNS