More than in previous years, the early cashew harvest in the world’s largest producer is telescoping with the cocoa season, which this year is marked by falling exports and accumulating stocks. As a result, cocoa is still mobilizing the logistical resources that should be freed up for cashew buyers and exporters.
Late cocoa and early cashew nuts do not mix well in the world’s leading producer. Because the means of transport and storage of one are also those of the other. When the cocoa bags are still full of beans, they cannot be used by the cashew farmers who use them, and the crops accumulate, sometimes on the floor of houses. As long as there are not enough bags, the trucks cannot be filled, especially since the trucks hardly circulate in the cashew production areas in the north, since they are still going back and forth between the cocoa-producing areas in the south and the Ivorian ports. As for the transporters, when they have a choice, they give priority to cocoa, which pays better than cashew nuts, which have a lower added value.
Ports still clogged with cocoa
The problem is the same at the warehouses. Given the abundant stocks of cocoa that are not finding buyers, they are not emptying fast enough and will not be able to accommodate, as expected, all the cashew nuts that are supposed to arrive in large quantities in the next two weeks. As a result, exporters are slowing down the pace of orders until they are sure they have a warehouse. The entire cashew chain is now affected by the overlap between the two campaigns. Especially since the cashew harvest, like last year, started a month early at the end of January.
Falling producer prices and fruit at risk of spoilage
This tension on logistics is specific to Côte d’Ivoire at the moment, explains Pierre Ricau, chief analyst of the agricultural market information service N’kalo, because of the volumes of cocoa and cashew production, which are out of all proportion to those of neighboring countries. And the late cotton harvest also complicates the picture, as it also still mobilizes trucks. The fear today is that prices will fall, because seeing that they will not be able to transport the fruit, traders will stop buying from the producer or negotiate hard: while the minimum price of cashew nuts is set at 305 CFA francs per kilo by the state, the fruit is now sold at 250 or even 200 CFA francs per kilo in the most remote growing areas. There is also a risk that some poorly stored stocks will spoil and that they cannot be sold as planned to Vietnamese and Indian processors.