India is the largest producer, processor, exporter, and the second largest consumer of cashew kernels in the world.
Cashew processing is a highly labour-intensive activity. The processing is carried out in multiple factories located in different places. Grading and packaging of finished products are centralized due to marketable quantity accumulation requirements. The industry is highly dependent on imported raw-materials for value addition. The export marketing is highly competitive. Hence, growth in the indigenous production is a must for the existence and growth of the industry. Currently, domestic production is hardly half of the requirement. The domestic cashew processing industry requires 12 lakh tonnes of cashew a year for fully utilizing the installed capacity.
Maharashtra, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the major cashew producing states among the 15 other state in the country. The domestic consumption of cashew or the wonder nut, mainly used in many Indian sweets, pastries and gravies, would also grow in the range of 8-10% in the current fiscal, according to reports. Of the total raw cashew nut only 20-25% is the out put of the kernel.India, which produces around five lakh tonnes of raw cashew, imports another seven lakh tonnes every year to meet the requirement of processing sector. The various cashew kernels include cashew kernels (raw, salted or roasted), Cashew Nut Shell Liquid etc.
There exists good market in India for Cashew nut and tremendous export potential. The markets for processed cashew nuts are growing.Cashew kernel export is also expected to grow in value terms at Rs 2,500 crore against Rs 2,288.90 crore in 2007-08, according to the estimates by the Cashew Promotion Council of India. In terms of quantity, exports are likely to go up by about 5% in the coming years.