Nutfruit Magazine

The official voice of the INC

26 November, 2021 Country Product Spotlight

Industry Highlight: Cashews India

Industry Highlight: Cashews India

This Country Product Spotlight is the sixth in a series of industry and market overviews in the Nutfruit magazine. This report provides a snapshot of the cashew industry in India, with data, analysis, and trends.


In the sixteenth century, the cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale L.), native of the Brazilian Amazonia, was introduced in India (Goa) by the Portuguese as a mean to prevent coastal soil erosion, since it is fast-growing, thrives well in sandy soils and presents a vast root system and tolerance to salinity. With the aid of elephants, which ate the whole cashew fruit, the nut was spread throughout the area. However, plantations were not established until the nineteenth century, when cashew cultivation began to spread to other tropical regions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. International trade started in India at the dawn of the twentieth century[1-4].

Over the 2012/13-2021/22 period, India was the world’s largest producer of raw cashew nuts (RCN), averaging 742,800 metric tons of RCN (178,300 MT kernel equivalent) and it is one of the top processors –along with Vietnam. Throughout the last decade, the Indian crop was fairly stable, ranging between a minimum of 160,500 MT (kernel equivalent) in 2012/13 and a maximum of 196,000 MT in 2017/18. With an estimated 2021/2022 production of over 177,100 MT, India currently accounts for 21% of the global cashew production (Figure 1)[5].

With over 1 million hectares under plantation (according to the latest available survey from 2018/19), the states of Orissa (19% of the country share), Maharashtra (18%), Andhra Pradesh (18%), Tamil Nadu  13%) and Karnataka (12%) account for 79% of the growing area (Figure 2). In the 10-year period between 2008/09 and 2018/19, the cashew planted area in India grew by 22%, with overall increases in all the major growing states with the most significant increment in Orissa (50%). Cultivation in non-traditional areas like the northeastern states has also picked up (Table 1)[6].

High-yielding cultivars were developed and released throughout the country since the 1990s, thanks to the efforts of the Directorate of Cashew Research (DCR), All India Co-ordinated Research Program (AICRP) on Cashew, and State Agriculture Universities (SAUs).

The use of softwood grafting to propagate high-yielding planting material has had a huge impact on enhancing productivity, notably in top-producing states like Orissa and Maharashtra. Canopy and nutrient management, intercropping, precision irrigation, soil and water conservation, high-density planting systems, pruning, rejuvenation of senile orchards, pest management, and other technologies have also all been developed and become available to farmers[7].


India, apart from being the top RCN producer, it is also is the largest processor –along with Vietnam– of raw cashew nuts into a graded kernel form. According to the Directorate of Cashewnut & Cocoa Development (DCCD) Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Orissa have the highest concentration of processing units. Traditionally, cashew processing has been very labor-intensive (requiring skilled labor), and close to 95% of the workers have been women who have acquired these skills over generations. In recent years, some parts of the process are being mechanized, leading to processing units coming up in non-traditional areas of the country. As per the last DCCD report, there are over 3,900 processing units in India with a processing capacity of 1.6 million metric tons, which surpasses the domestic RCN crop and needs to be fed with imports, mostly from the African producing origins.

Kernels are the main internationally traded and consumed product of the cashew industry. The cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) is a valuable subproduct of raw nut processing, which is also traded internationally to be used by the chemical industry. The cashew apple, despite being wasted in large quantities, a small share is generally processed and consumed locally in the form of juice, candy, ham, pickle, or chutney[7,8]. The cashew apple is also used to make feni, a traditional liquor distilled in Goa.


India exports about 16% (average 2015-2019)[9] of the volume of shelled cashews traded worldwide, being the top second exporting origin after Vietnam. According to the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, over the last ten years, India exported between a maximum of 130,900 MT of shelled cashews in 2011/12 and a minimum of 50,200 MT in 2020-2021 (Figure 3). The decline in India’s share in export of kernels is due to the sustained and strong growth in domestic consumption over the last decade or so, coupled with increased processing in Vietnam and Africa, which do not have large domestic markets and export most of their kernel production[10,11].

The leading importing countries for cashew kernels from India are the UAE averaging about 15,500 MT (2016/17-2020/21), followed by the USA, the Netherlands and Japan averaging 8,500 MT, 7,800 and 7,300 MT, respectively. At a region level, the Middle East is the main market, followed by Europe, Asia and North America (Figure 4).

In order to meet the domestic demand and to feed its processing capacity, between 2016/17 and 2020/21, India imported, on average, 804,300 MT of raw cashew nuts from other producing origins worldwide, mainly from Western and Eastern African countries, with Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Guinea- Bissau, Tanzania and Ghana being the top five suppliers (Figure 5).


India is the world’s leading consumer of cashews, having reached, on average, around 262,800 MT (kernel basis) over the last decade (Table 2)[12]. Diwali, the gifting and marriage seasons are the top sales occasions.

India has always been a large consumer of broken grades of cashew in-home cooking and as an ingredient for traditional snacks and sweets. This consumption is increasing due to growth in demand of traditional products, coupled with new applications (paste, spread, beverage, etc.). The availability of brokens (as a percentage of total kernel produced) has reduced in the last few years due to better machines. The use of wholes as ingredient along with increased consumption of whole cashews as healthy daily snacks and gifts is adding to the growth of domestic demand.

1. Malhotra S.K., Hubballi Venkatesh N. and Nayak M.G. (2017). Cashew: Production, Processing and Utilization of By-products Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development, Cochin, Kerala, India.
2. Bhoomika, H.R. and Sudha Rani, N, (2018). Problems India - An Overview, Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci: 7 (10). doi:
3. Mahantesh, N. and Manjunatha, P. (2018). Trends in Area, Production, Yield and Export-Import of Cashew in India-An Economic Analysis. Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci. 7(12). doi:
4. Commodities at a Glance: Special issue on cashew nuts - (N°14 - April 2021) (UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2020/1).
5. INC Database.
6. ICAR-Directorate of Cashew Research, Government of India,
7. Malhotra S.K., Hubballi Venkatesh N, and Nayak M.G. (2017). Cashew: Production, Processing and Utilization of By-products Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development, Cochin, Kerala, India.
8. Commodities at a Glance: Special issue on cashew nuts - (N°14 - April 2021) (UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2020/1).
9. INC database.
10. Malhotra S.K., Hubballi Venkatesh N. and Nayak M.G. (2017). Cashew: Production, Processing and Utilization of By products Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development, Cochin, Kerala, India.
11. Bhoomika, H.R. and Sudha Rani, N. (2018). Problems India - An Overview. Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci: 7 (10). doi:
12. INC Database.
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