India is the largest producer and exporter of cashew kernels in the world. Over 65% of the world export of cashew kernels is accounted for by India. Indian cashews are consumed in as many as 60 countries all over the world, the major markets being the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Germany Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and the Middle East countries.
Cashew kernels are obtained through factory processing (roasting/ steaming, shelling and peeling) of cashew nuts. The Cashew nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) is a by-product obtained while processing the nuts. The Indian cashew kernel is well acclaimed for its good quality, taste and appearance. Cashew Kernels are graded into white/scorched wholes, pieces, splits, butts etc., depending on the shape, size & colour of the kernel.
There are 26 grades of cashew kernels that are commercially available and exported from the country. Regular shipping facilities exist from India to all ports of the world; however, the major shipments from India take place through Cochin Port.
The total export of Cashew kernels from India during 2006-07 was 118540 ton valued at Rs.2455.15 crores (US$ 543 Million). Of this, Kerala accounted for 61.46% of the total quantity exported, contributing to 61.29% of the total value. However, the State's share in the export of Cashew nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) declined to 60.8% in quantity and 55% in value during 2006-07.
The United States is the biggest market of Cashew kernels from India, consuming 39% of total quantity of Cashew Kernels exported during 2006-07. The Netherlands and U.A.E occupy second and third places with 16.33% and 8.05% of the total exports, respectively.