Speaking at a meeting in HCM City on Monday, Vinacas chairman Nguyễn Đức Thanh said that global demand for all kinds of nuts was expected to remain high this year because of the widely reported health benefits of nuts.
However, domestic cashew processors had not had enough materials to process for exports, he said.
Last year, enterprises imported from many countries 1.06 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts for processing for export. The imports, mostly from African countries, represented an increase of 14 per cent over 2015.
About 1.1 million tonnes of raw nuts are expected to be imported this year.
The cashew nut production and trading sector is expected to have a good year but difficulties might occur if unseasonable weather adversely affects domestic cashew nut output.
Cashew export enterprises are also facing increasing competition.
In Việt Nam’s large import markets like the US, the Netherlands and China, demand is expected to increase but each market has its own difficulties, according to Vinacas.
In the US market, for instance, starting from February, supermarkets are expected to raise cashew prices, causing concern among Vietnamese exporters that the move would affect US consumption.
Vũ Thái Sơn, general director of Long Sơn JSC, said in the near future that Chinese authorities would tighten exports of the nut via border trade and enhance requirements on hygiene and food safety.
He said that Vietnamese exporters must prepare for stricter requirements.
African countries are offering incentives to encourage foreign investors to invest in processing the nuts to reduce their exports of raw nuts, according to delegates at the meeting.
In addition, Chinese firms with deep pockets can easily invest in the sector in Africa, leading to severe competition.
Tạ Quang Huyên, chairman of the board of Bình Phước-based Hoàng Sơn 1 Company and Vinacas’s deputy chairman, said cashew nut prices reached a peak by the end of last year, but prices could drop this year.
He said that domestic cashew nut processors and exporters, to avoid risks, should not keep a high inventory or import raw materials en masse if they do not have export contracts.
Enterprises exported 348,000 tonnes of cashew last year, earning $2.84 billion, a year-on-year increase of 5.6 per cent in volume and 18.4 per cent in value.
Việt Nam exported cashews to 90 countries and territories, with the US being the largest import market (accounting for 35 per cent of Việt Nam’s total cashew export volume), followed by the EU and the UK (25 per cent) and China (18 per cent).
Việt Nam has been the world’s largest cashew nut exporter for 11 consecutive years, accounting for 42 per cent of the world’s total cashew nut export volume last year, according to Vinacas. — VNS