Vietnam should focus on selling branded cashew in foreign markets to earn more revenue from higher up the value chain, deputy agriculture minister Luong Le Phuong told a conference in Ho Chi Minh City.
The minister said the industry should work with international buyers to invest in processing and build brands, which was now mostly done by foreign firms.
Last year Vietnam as the world’s top exporter with a 37 per cent market share, exported 198,000 tonnes of cashew, up 11.8 per cent from a year earlier.
Nguyen Thai Hoc, chairman of Vietnam Cashew Association, an industry association said the area under cashew was expected to remain at 350,000 hactares until 2015, but would fall to 330,000 by 2020.
But by then average productivity was expected to double from the current one tonne per hectare.
The Association expects cashew exports rise to US$1.5 billion in 2020 from $1.13 billion last year.
The industry would focus on raising the ratio of fully processed kernels to satisfy high customer requirements and add more value. The industry was planning to modernize technology, improve quality and hygiene standards.
It would provide training to 1.5 -2 million workers in cashew growing and processing.
Hoc said there were shortfalls of workers for the industry now.
Dinh Thi My Loan, general secretary of the Vietnam Retailers Association, said the cashew industry depended too much on exports, shipping more than 95 per cent of output.
“Cashew consumption in the domestic market accounted a very modest rate of 1.8-2.2 per cent.
In India, the world’s largest cashew producer, as much as 40-60 per cent of cashew is sold in the domestic market.”
Loan attributed the low demand at home to the high prices, poor marketing, and lack of diversified products.
Nguyen Phi Long, director of Nam Long Co Ltd, said because of its high price cashew was considered a “high-end” nut, and so many people did not eat it despite its high nutritional value.