-Vishakha Goswami (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To reach a wider market, Kerala’s leading cashew manufacturer and exporter is planning to set up storage houses in major cities across India. Currently, they are reaching about 22 cities with a centralized office and processing unit in Kerala. The motive to reach major cities is to reduce the time frame of supplying cashews to the FMCG companies. With these storage houses and branch offices, they can increase the availability of cashew kernels with a quick delivery rate.In fact, the company had already set up a small remote office in New Delhi to cater to the North Indian buyers.
Cashew is a highly valued crop across the globe due to its nutritional benefits. India is the largest consumer of cashew kernels in the world and the second-largest producer of raw cashews after Ivory Coast. The cashew consumption in India is about 1.6 M metric tons and is likely to project at a CAGR of 5.00% during 2020-2027 according to a report by MarketResearch.
Cashew is one of India’s primary foreign exchange-earners and the second-biggest dollar earner; which also facilitates a secure source of income for small producers and farm owners. India has a vast potential for the growth of cashew farmers and increase employability by increasing its export globally.
“India will see a surge in consumption of nuts in coming years. Post-pandemic, people have become more aware and conscious about healthy and nutritious food. The reason for this spike in demand for cashews and other nuts is the trend of vegan consumption. Cashew nuts are also considered as a substitute for dairy products.”, says Omar Mohammed, founder, Alfah Cashews in conversation with ChefBharath.
Headquartered in Kollam – aka ‘cashew capital’ of the world, Omar, the founder, belongs to the fourth generation cashew industrialist with more than a decade of experience in running the cashew business. In 2009, starting from a 100 sq. ft. small shop, Omar expanded his business as one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of cashew kernels in the FMCG sector. Alfah cashews now have their own packaging and processing units of about 8000 sq. ft.
Assurance of Quality with state-of-art-machinery:
“Since we are procuring raw cashews from other countries as well it is really important to ensure the consistency in quality of cashews. We majorly import cashews from African countries such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria and more. Every raw cashew crop is different, to maintain the quality and linearity we use destoning machines for removing stone particles, metal detectors to remove any kind of metals, sortex machines to segregate the lower grade, different colour cashews. To control the moisture and increase the shelf life we run the cashew with heating machines. For pre-pack quality checking, cashews pass through the conveyor belt. For the final product we use MVP, moulded vacuum packaging and tin packaging.”, he added.
Changing cashew market:
Before the last decade, the cashews were only produced by these three states, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Now that has changed, every state has their own procuring and processing units, which leads to a challenge of maintaining consistency in the quality of the cashews. “Every state is selling by doing their own grading system whereas cashews have a proper grading system approved by the government of India. Due to this, the authenticity of cashews has been compromised as well the prices are getting higher. The MSMEs and small processing units across India are struggling for a sustainable business. Without mass production, the cashew business is not profitable.”, says Omar.
Employability and women empowerment:
Cashew processing is a high labour incentive industry. More than 90% of the workers are from women and from lower strata of society. Kerala accounts for the highest proportion of cashew workers in India. “In our processing unit, 99% of employees are women only 1% staff is men”, mentioned Omar.
How to buy quality cashews:
The one mistake FMCG manufacturers make while buying cashews is that they don’t go by the grading chart. It is important to understand the need of a particular end-product. Commonly cashews are classified by their size and texture such as Whole White (variations- W180, W210, W240, W320, W450), Scorched Wholes (variations SW180, SW210, SW240, SW320, SW450), Splits, Scorched Splits, Butts, Large white pieces (LWP), and more.
“To ensure the efficient use of cashews, companies should buy cashews directly from sellers and not the traders because the traders lack understanding of the need of the buyer. The buyer has to satisfy with whatever the trader is offering, which impacts their own product and brand.”, he said.
Growth and expansion plans:
Alfah Cashews is supplying 80-85% of the Ice Cream manufacturers of Kerala. “We are trying to reach other state’s ice cream manufacturers as well. We will continue to expand our client’s portfolio by supplying cashews to namkeen manufacturers, protein supplements/drink makers and more. We are now focused on establishing storage facilities in major cities so the buyer can get the materials quickly.”, he added. Currently, they have branch offices in Delhi and Bangalore.