Cambodia Targetting Ambitious Processed Cashew And Export Growth

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2023 saw Cambodia export 8.4 million tonnes of agricultural products, generating around USD $4.3 billion in revenue, with approximately USD $837 million generated from the exports of 656,000 tonnes of cashews according to the Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia. 

Cambodia Targetting Ambitious Processed Cashew And Export Growth
Cambodia Targetting Ambitious Processed Cashew And Export Growth./ Image Credit: Cambodia Harvest III (USAID)

The sector has great ambitions to diversify its export target markets, attract investment for increasing its processing capabilities, and become the leading producer of cashews globally.

Cambodia has been considered a major producer of cashew nuts and has ambitions to dominate the global market by 2027. Its cashews have a good reputation for their quality and size, and by the start of 2023, Cambodia was the second-largest cashew producer worldwide – behind the Ivory Coast.

The global cashew market reached an estimated USD $7.5 Billion in 2023, and according to IMARC Group, they expect the market to reach US $10.5 Billion by 2032.

Cashew Nuts – Cambodia

Although the data presented at the start of 2024 is not quite the same as those reported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – 2023 still represented a year-on-year decrease of 16.9 per cent in value and a 7.6 per cent decline in volume.

In 2023, raw cashew nuts in Cambodia cost between US\$4.5 and US\$5.75 per kilogram, or between KHR 18750 and KHR 23958.33 per kilogram in Riel. The approximate wholesale price range for Cambodian cashew nuts is between US\$3.15 and US\$4.03 per kilogram. 

Over recent years, Cambodia has exported approximately the following in cashew nuts:

  • 2019 – 600,000 tonnes 
  • 2020 –  950,000 tonnes 
  • 2021 – 1.1 million tonnes 
  • 2022 – 670,000 tonnes

In 2021, Cambodia produced 1.18 million tonnes of cashew nuts out of a global total of 5 million tonnes.

The National Policy on Cashew Nuts for 2022-2027 was introduced through the Ministry of Commerce in June 2023. This plan is the foundation for making the Kingdom the leading supplier of cashews and has a three-pronged approach which encompasses improving the production strategy,  processing strategy, and the export strategy for cashews from Cambodia.

  1. Increase production output and ensure competitive quality production of cashews.
  2. Promote industrialisation and value-added cashew harvesting and processing by 25% by 2027 and at least 50% by 2032.
  3. Increase exports and market diversification as well as trade facilitation, cost reduction, and market excellence.
Cambodia Targetting Ambitious Processed Cashew And Export Growth
Cambodia Targetting Ambitious Processed Cashew And Export Growth./ Image Credit: Cambodia Harvest III (USAID).

Plans To Increase Export Markets And Improve Cashew Processing

As a commodity, Cambodia also needs to diversify export markets as 618,000 tonnes (over 94 per cent) were sent to Vietnam in 2023. In addition, Cambodia only processes between five and 10 per cent of the produce, so the bulk of exported cashew nuts are raw. This means that markets Vietnam can process and re-export the cashews at higher prices to global markets.

In Q3 2023, the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce announced it was looking at the possibility of working with the European Union to promote Cambodian cashew nuts on the international stage, and to attract European investment in the Kingdom’s cashew sector. By the end of 2023, only Germany and the UK have imported Cambodian cashews – both in small quantities.

Via Germany’s international development agency GIZ, there are plans targeting 2024 to get underway a new four-year round of the CAPSAFE project which would try and boost the value chain of Cambodian cashew nuts among other aims in the agri and manufacturing sectors.

In January 2023, The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also announced plans to work with the Cambodia Cashew Federation to improve the Cambodian cashew value chain via the Cashew Export Development Programme, and implemented by USAID’s Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest III (“Harvest III”) project.

Two processing plants have been confirmed which should be operating in 2024, both located in Kampong Thom province. By the start of 2024, there are three medium-sized factories in operation, with five under consideration. However, estimates require at least 30 factories in the Kingdom to handle the total output.

The two plants should offer a potential export manufacturing capacity of more than 20,000 tonnes per year – which is a start but still represents a small number compared to the total output.

  • The CSNC Agriculture plant –  A joint venture between Cambodian and Singaporean investors will offer a production capacity of 14,600 tonnes per year.
  • Mirath Agri Tech – Backed by a Japanese company, it aims to have an annual capacity of 7,300 tonnes per year.

The Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia said that Mirath Agri Tech plans to open a processing plant able to handle 25,000 tonnes of crude kernels per year, with a factory able to produce cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL).

World Cashew Conference 2024 – Siem Reap

Cambodia will host the World Cashew Conference from 1-3 Feb 2024 at the Sokha Siem Reap Resort & Convention Centre, with the Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) helping the Ministry of Commerce to organise the event.

This will be a great opportunity to highlight local products and promote Cambodia’s aspirations to transform its cashew sector which would result in opportunities for agribusiness development and job creation.

As many as 500 attendees are expected from the global cashew industry for what will be the 10th World Cashew Conference.

Cambodian Economic Outlook 2024

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