Be committed to delivering quality products - Cashew expert to African processors

Seasoned Cashew expert and Director of Nuts2, Kees Blokland, has identified quality and commitment as two important elements for the growth of the cashew processing subsector in Africa.

Speaking at the African Cashew Alliance (ACA)’s Global Markets Encounter with Jim Fitzpatrick on Wednesday, 9th November 2022, he believed if African processors continue to process quality kernels and stay committed to delivering on supply contracts, it will propel the industry to grow.

According to him, African processors are currently doing a good job in terms of kernel quality but need to be more committed to agreements with buyers and not delay shipments. This, he believed, will increase their credibility in the kernel market and increase their share of the market.

“For us when we look at the reports we are getting from our customers, then we are saying quality and commitment. Those are the crucial factors which you need in the long term. When you are an African processor make sure you deliver according to the quality agreed upon and that you commit to the contract you have in place. When you want to build a market, you want to make sure you are reliable in everything that you agree upon,” he said. 

“I think the African industry is doing a great job when we look at quality. The quality of African cashew nuts kernels most times are very well appreciated. But I think it is crucial, to do what you are committing to, do what you are saying. And our advice to the African industry as well, make sure you have a market for all you process because that is sometimes a bit of a problem when you talk to the African Processors.

Most European countries are introducing and strengthening existing laws on food safety to protect the consumer. Issues of sustainability and traceability have thus become major subjects of discussion in cashew processing in recent years.

Mr. Blokland believes these new laws will “promote cashew processing in Africa in a big way”. As people become more conscious of issues like traceability, sustainability, and specific origins, he believed, now is the time for local African processors to prove themselves by delivering quality and being consistent at it.     

“One of the problems of the African industry is that they have to finance their crops for the whole year round which is sometimes a bit more expensive to finance. I think a big advantage is that their traceability system is good. For example, you talk about a factory in Burkina Faso. They are buying everything from Burkina Faso, and they know the area they are buying from. And that has become more and more important in the industry as well,” he highlighted. 

“We are advising our customers that, the quality from Africa is consistent, is good, it’s nice, it’s white, and the industry will have to prove themselves into that, they have to maintain that. When you talk about demand in general, everybody is convinced about India. The African industry must prove themselves by delivering nice products and consistent quality,” he said.

Africa’s cashew industry has seen significant growth in the past two decades consistently producing about 60% of world cashews. While local processing remains low, the subsector is seeing some growth in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Many cashew value chain experts believe considering the strategic advantage Africa has in cashew production, quality, traceability and sustainability, and its geographical proximity to Europe and America in comparison to Vietnam, the leading cashew processor, with the right policy environment and investment, Africa can greatly increase local cashew processing, increase its share of the kernel market and create more jobs.