HCM City (VNA) – Vietnam imported nearly 1.2 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth 1.9 billion USD in the first four months of this year, increases of 300 percent and 323.5 percent year-on-year, 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 one month later than usual. Heavy rains during the harvest season in cashew farming centres like the southern provinces of Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai also hampered the drying process, thus affecting quality, the association added.
Businesses said they have faced a shortage of raw materials in recent years and to ensure supply for export processing have had to increase imports even though import prices are rising.
Cambodia is currently the largest supplier of raw cashews to Vietnam, making up 60 percent 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 hailing from most foreign suppliers went down during the first four months, the price of unprocessed nuts from Cambodia soared 26.2 percent year-on-year.
As Cambodia's raw cashews accounts for the majority of the volume imported into Vietnam, the average import price reached 1,580 USD per tonne in the four-month period, up 5.8 percent year-on-year.
Explaining the rising import volume from Cambodia, one processing company in Binh Phuoc said the transportation of cashews harvested in the previous crop has encountered certain 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 Vietnam by road.
Also, the company noted, as African countries have only recently completed their harvest and their exporters are still preparing their packaging and making customs declarations, cashews from the continent won't arrive until the latter 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 percent and 8 percent, respectively, in cashew consumption last year despite COVID-19.
In the first four months of 2021, Vietnam earned 894 million USD from shipping 152,000 tonnes of cashew nuts abroad, down 7.4 percent in value but up 8.6 percent in volume year-on-year.
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