November 2, 2016
The good news, for cashews, is that they’ve recently become a lot more popular than other tree nuts like pistachios and walnuts (sorry, pistachios and walnuts). But the bad news, for consumers, is that that spike in popularity is putting a strain on the global cashew supply, which could cause an uptick in prices for consumers.
Global demand for cashews has been growing faster than any other tree nut, including almonds, Bloomberg reports: demand has grown by 53% since 2010, and outstripped production in at least four of the past seven years. A drought in Vietnam, the world’s largest exporter, is stirring worries that supplies will be tight enough to push prices up.This year’s cashew harvest in Vietnam is down by 11%, and prices in that country have already gone up by as much as a third, according to estimates from a growers’ group, which mean trouble ahead stateside: the U.S. is the biggest importer — bringing in about a quarter of all cashew shipments — with folks eating them as snacks or using them to make protein bars and cashew milk.
“There’s been no year like this year,” Nguyen Duc Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association, told Bloomberg.He says prices will probably stay high until the next harvest comes in early 2017.Although Vietnam exports about 58% of the world’s cashews, the country isn’t totally dependent on its own growers: about two-thirds of the cashews it processes were grown somewhere else — like West Africa, which has seen a big jump in production — and are then processed in Vietnam.That being said, high demand is still putting stress on the processed nuts market, with export prices jumping 22% this year through August, Thanh said, and other experts say global demand will keep rising this year, against supply that will remain flat or slightly below last year.