Cashew Nut Supply Chain: Understanding the Process from Farm to Market

The cashew nut supply chain is a complex system that involves multiple stages, from cultivation to processing and distribution. Cashews are a popular nut that is used in a variety of products, including snacks, desserts, and even vegan cheese. The global demand for cashews has been steadily increasing over the years, which has put pressure on the supply chain to keep up with the demand.

One of the main challenges in the cashew nut supply chain is ensuring that the nuts are of high quality and safe for consumption. Cashews are often grown in developing countries where there may be limited resources and infrastructure to support safe and sustainable farming practices. Additionally, cashews are often processed in facilities that may not meet international food safety standards, which can lead to contamination and health risks for consumers.

Despite these challenges, there are efforts underway to improve the sustainability and safety of the cashew nut supply chain. This includes initiatives to promote sustainable farming practices, improve working conditions for farmers and workers, and implement food safety regulations in processing facilities. By addressing these issues, the cashew nut supply chain can continue to meet the growing demand for this popular nut while also ensuring that it is produced in a safe and sustainable manner.

Cashew Nut Production


Cashew nut production begins with harvesting the cashew apple. The cashew apple is a fruit that grows on the cashew tree. The cashew apple is harvested by hand, and it is important to harvest it carefully to avoid damaging the nut.

Once the cashew apple has been harvested, the nut can be removed. The nut is located on the bottom of the cashew apple, and it is protected by a hard shell. The shell must be removed before the nut can be processed.


After the cashew nut has been removed from the cashew apple, it must be processed. The first step in processing the cashew nut is to remove the hard shell. This is typically done by hand, and it can be a time-consuming process.

Once the shell has been removed, the cashew nut must be roasted. Roasting the cashew nut helps to remove any remaining shell fragments and also gives the nut its characteristic flavor.

After the cashew nut has been roasted, it can be sorted and graded. The nuts are typically sorted by size and quality. The highest quality nuts are used for snacking, while lower quality nuts are used for cooking and other purposes.

Overall, cashew nut production is a complex process that requires careful attention to detail at every step. From harvesting the cashew apple to processing the nut, every step must be done correctly to ensure a high-quality product.

Global Supply Chain

Major Producers

Cashew nuts are produced in over 30 countries, with the top five producers being Vietnam, India, Ivory Coast, Brazil, and Nigeria. Vietnam is the largest producer, accounting for over 40% of global production. India is the second-largest producer, accounting for around 20% of global production. Ivory Coast, Brazil, and Nigeria are the third, fourth, and fifth-largest producers, respectively.

Production is concentrated in tropical regions, with Africa, Asia, and Latin America being the main producing regions. Smallholder farmers produce the majority of cashew nuts, with some large-scale plantations also in operation.

Major Consumers

The United States and the European Union are the largest consumers of cashew nuts, accounting for around 60% of global consumption. Other major consumers include China, Japan, and Australia.

Cashew nuts are used in a variety of products, including snacks, confectionery, and baked goods. They are also used in the production of cashew milk and as a dairy substitute in vegan and lactose-free products.

The global supply chain for cashew nuts involves several stages, including harvesting, processing, packaging, and distribution. The majority of cashew nuts are exported from producing countries to consuming countries, where they are further processed and packaged before being sold to consumers. The supply chain is complex and involves multiple stakeholders, including farmers, processors, traders, and retailers.

Trade Dynamics


Cashew nuts are one of the most traded nuts in the world, and the global export market for cashew nuts has been steadily growing over the past few years. As of 2023, the top cashew nut exporters in the world are Vietnam, India, and Ivory Coast, which together account for over 70% of the world’s cashew nut exports.

Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashew nuts in the world, with a market share of around 45%. The country’s proximity to major cashew nut producing countries, coupled with its well-established processing industry, has made it the go-to destination for cashew nut exports. India, the second-largest exporter, accounts for around 22% of the world’s cashew nut exports. The country has a well-established processing industry and a large domestic market for cashew nuts.

Ivory Coast is the third-largest exporter of cashew nuts in the world, with a market share of around 8%. The country has been rapidly growing its cashew nut exports over the past few years, thanks to government support and investments in the sector.


The United States, the European Union, and China are the three largest importers of cashew nuts in the world. In 2023, the United States imported around 250,000 metric tons of cashew nuts, while the European Union imported around 200,000 metric tons. China imported around 150,000 metric tons of cashew nuts.

The demand for cashew nuts in the United States and Europe has been steadily growing over the past few years, thanks to the increasing popularity of plant-based diets and the health benefits associated with cashew nuts. In China, the demand for cashew nuts has been driven by the country’s growing middle class and their increasing appetite for healthy snacks.

Overall, the global cashew nut supply chain is complex and involves multiple players, including farmers, processors, traders, and retailers. The trade dynamics of the cashew nut market are constantly evolving, driven by changing consumer preferences, government policies, and global economic conditions.

Supply Chain Challenges

Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges in the supply chain of cashew nuts. The unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change can affect the quality and quantity of cashew nuts produced. Droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events can damage the cashew trees, leading to a decrease in yield. This can have significant impacts on the livelihoods of farmers and the supply of cashew nuts to the market.

Labor Issues

Another challenge in the cashew nut supply chain is labor issues. The work involved in harvesting and processing cashew nuts is labor-intensive, and many workers are low-paid and work in poor conditions. This can lead to issues such as exploitation, child labor, and poor working conditions. Ensuring fair wages and good working conditions for workers in the cashew nut supply chain is essential to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

In conclusion, climate change and labor issues are two significant challenges facing the cashew nut supply chain. Addressing these challenges will require collaboration between all stakeholders, including farmers, processors, traders, and consumers. By working together, it is possible to create a more sustainable and equitable cashew nut supply chain.

Future of Cashew Nut Supply Chain

Technological Advancements

The cashew nut industry is expected to witness significant technological advancements in the coming years. Technology is expected to play a key role in improving the efficiency of the supply chain, reducing the cost of production, and enhancing the quality of cashew nuts.

One of the major technological advancements in the cashew nut supply chain is the use of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology can help in creating a transparent and secure supply chain by providing real-time information about the production, transportation, and storage of cashew nuts. This can help in reducing the risk of fraud, ensuring traceability, and improving the quality of cashew nuts.

Another technological advancement that is expected to revolutionize the cashew nut supply chain is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI and machine learning can help in predicting the demand for cashew nuts, optimizing the production process, and reducing the wastage of cashew nuts.

Sustainability Initiatives

The cashew nut industry is also expected to witness a significant shift towards sustainability in the coming years. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their consumption choices, and are demanding more sustainable products.

One of the major sustainability initiatives in the cashew nut industry is the promotion of organic farming practices. Organic farming practices can help in reducing the use of harmful chemicals, preserving biodiversity, and improving the quality of soil and water.

Another sustainability initiative in the cashew nut industry is the promotion of fair trade practices. Fair trade practices can help in ensuring that the farmers receive a fair price for their produce, improving their livelihoods, and promoting social and economic development in the cashew nut producing regions.

Overall, the future of the cashew nut supply chain looks promising with the adoption of new technologies and sustainability initiatives. These developments are expected to improve the efficiency, quality, and sustainability of the cashew nut industry, and provide benefits to all stakeholders involved in the supply chain.

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