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Cashew Market Update - 24 March 2020

A lot has happened in the past week in terms of critical events that will influence the course of the markets. Inshell trades have almost come to a standstill as everyone grapples with the COVID-19 response from various governments. Yesterday we heard of India shutting down for 21 days, we have had first signs of restrictions in IVC with the nightly curfew and travel restrictions to upcountry locations. We are also hearing restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City.

Processors have become very cautious in their in-shell purchases and with every passing day, their worry becomes justified. However, if processors do not buy in-shells, we will have a situation very soon when the local in-shells from India and Vietnam/Cambodia will run out and then we may see cashews factories closed due to lack of raw material. In order to motivate processors to buy in-shells, they need to be priced appropriately, without any price restrictions.

African governments have tried to help their local farmers with price controls on trade which will need to be reviewed in the given situation. This week we have also heard that the IVC crop is lower than expected, but that has gone completely unnoticed in the COVID-19 fear.

In destination markets, we are still seeing decent consumption growth and if this continues, the in-shell trades will quickly restart.

Overall, the price of cashew kernels is at a multi-year low. It would be better to layer in coverage for these buyers who are uncovered.

Possible Scenarios

Bullish

  • Spot kernel prices could start moving up with COVID-19 related disruptions shutting down Vietnamese processing as it has done in India.
  • The demand for kernels is still good.
  • Shelf price of cashew nuts is still reasonably high and has room to drop, which could trigger additional consumption.
  • IVC crop seems to be lower than expected.
  • Vessel delays and supply chain issues could cause disruptions in the availability of kernels in the destination.

Bearish

  • The gloomy economic situation could impact consumption after the initial rush to stock up is over.
  • If the IVC government decides to reduce their price expectation, we could see much lower in-shell prices and hence even lower kernel prices.
  • In China, the situation is improving but cross-border trade between China and Vietnam may not resume as quickly as expected.
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