For more than 300,000 independent cashew farmers in Cote d'Ivoire, gaining further access to the UK and European markets has direct economic benefits
Cote d'Ivoire is one of the world's largest producer of cashew nuts. Production is nearing a million tonnes of cashews each year, which is then sold to the main processing markets of India, Vietnam and Brazil before reaching final consumers in Europe and Asia.
But what market share are the cashew farmers of Cote d'Ivoire missing? And how can the cashew industry become even more competitive and unlock opportunities for exporters in the UK and EU markets?
This was the focus of discussions at the seminar titled "Competitiveness of the cashew sector in Cote d'Ivoire: Towards increased access to UK and European markets".
Senior government officials and representatives from cashew producers and trading companies together with European cashew importers attended the seminar that took place in Abidjan.
In his opening speech, the Ivorian Minister for Commerce and Industry, His Excellency, Mr. Souleymane Diarrassouba, noted, "This seminar will be an opportunity for the various national actors to take ownership of the challenges and opportunities linked to local processing, but above all to discuss strategies for improving the competitiveness of the Ivorian cashew sector."
Following disruptions to the global value chain and sale of cashews resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference examined both the challenges and opportunities for increased local processing and the potential of growing exports through direct engagement with European importers.
Trade Market Intelligence and branding experts from the International Trade Centre provided further insights into UK and European market opportunities including product diversification, sector-wide national branding and improved logistics.
Given the classification of cashew kernels into 26 different grades according to size, colour and condition, one of the key themes to emerge from the discussions was the need to unlock the export potential for lower or off grades of cashew nuts in certain markets.
Gaining access to UK and EU markets will create more jobs and improve livelihoods for those associated with the cashew sector in the country.
The seminar provided the platform for open discussions between the key stakeholders of the sector. As importers from Germany and Netherlands shared their insights, experiences and expectations around importing cashew nuts from Africa, participants noted the demand from Europe for a continuous supply of larger quantities. Ivorian exporters also noted the increased demand for organic cashews.
Although many companies in the cashew sector have been badly hit by COVID-19, the meeting participants praised the resilience of Ivorian cashew exporters. Participants heard from a producer who diversified their product offering to introduce cashew paste to their local market. Another producer shared their experience in obtaining certifications such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to access to new markets.
The seminar took place in Abidjan this month and was organised by the International Trade Centre's United Kingdom Trade Partnerships Programme (UKTP). UKTP is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
As one of the pilot countries in the UKTP, Cote d'Ivoire is participating in series of targeted activities aimed to bring greater awareness of existing Economic Partnership Agreements with the UK and Europe and increased market access and jobs creation.