09 MAY 2022
After a very quiet (almost somnolent) Q1-2022, the Cashew market has started waking up in the last month or so.
At the beginning of the year, the cashew industry was looking at :
- Comfortable supply
- Steady growth in demand
- Covid uncertainty
- Logistic challenges & volatility
- Flat market
On almost all these factors, things have changed :
- Although we are only half way through the Northern crop, it is almost certain that crops in Vietnam & Cambodia are significantly lower than initial expectation. There is some concern about crop in some parts of India and West Africa but at this time, it seems that impact of this may not be very large.
- Although it is too early in the year to talk about demand growth, the fact that Vietnam exports in Q1-2022 are lower than Q1-2021 (for the first time in several years) is something to be watched closely. Was this because buyers bought too much in Q3/Q4-2021 ? Was this because processing in Q1-2022 was low because of extended period of low kernel prices ? What will be shipment trend in Q2-2022 ? What impact will it have on kernel availability in importing countries in Q2/Q3-2022 ?
- Covid – fortunately – has not been much of an issue in 2022 (so far), except for China.
- Logistic challenges continue – specially the longer transit time due to blockages in China and congestions at many transit ports leading to roll-overs and cancellations. Freight rates have come down from 2021 peaks and volatility seems to have decreased – at least for the time being – but the rates are still much higher than the long term average. With Oil prices above 100 dollars, there does not seem to be much chance of any significant relief in freight rates in the medium term.
Coming to prices – despite kernel prices being flat (and even soft) in Q1-2022 – RCN prices were firm and moved up (even in the middle of the harvest of the Northern crops). IVC & Ghana started trading around $ 1200 and swiftly moved up to $ 1275-1300. They continued moving up in April – recent trades have been as high $ 1350-1370. Premium for Benin has been unusually high – around $ 300. Senegal & Gambia are trading in the range of $ 1650-1700.
Kernel prices moved down 7-8% during Q1-2022 – for instance, Vietnam W320 which were trading in 2.85-3.00 range at beginning of the year came down to 2.60-2.80 FOB. During April, they have moved up to 2.90-3.10 FOB, going above the Q1 range. African kernels have been trading almost the same level (C&F) as the higher end of Vietnam prices. Discerning buyers have been willing to pay a premium for better quality, traceability, sustainability. With their Premium Quality, Indian processors continue to sell at a significant premium to Vietnam & Africa (although India’s share of global kernel trade is now down to about 10%).
Interesting (and encouraging) development – since the beginning of 2021 – has been that prices for Broken grades have moved up faster due to reduced yields coupled with higher demand. Differential from Wholes is trending down but there is scope for further narrowing before we reach the levels seen before mechanisation started. (Disappointingly, demand and differential for larger Wholes has come down – significantly !!!)
Looking ahead :
- There is some uncertainty on demand due to general economic weakness in most countries on the back of inflation and Russia-Ukraine situation. Will demand be flat or will there be a reversal of the growth that we have seen in the last 3-4 years ?
- On the supply side, it certainly looks that kernel availability in 2022 will be lower than 2021 with reduced crops in some origins and lower kernel yields in most.
- During SH of 2022, processors will be using higher priced RCN. Processing and logistic costs will be higher due to inflation (and so will carrying costs with interest rates moving higher).
Considering all factors, unless there is dramatic fall in demand, downside is limited to some unexpected increase in supply (or decline in RCN prices). And there is possibility for reasonable increase (not a jump) in prices in the coming weeks.
Please share your news and information on the market situation PLUS your views on what we can expect in the coming weeks – especially on demand.
Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai & San Francisco
Phone : +91 98200 79015
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org