Cashews are among the most expensive nuts, but why? The price of cashews is influenced by a range of factors – from the climate needed to grow them, to the demands of a labor-intensive harvest, to high shipping and processing costs. Find out more about the factors that drive the higher cost of this popular nut.
Origin of cashews.
Cashews are native to Central and South America, although the majority of commercial cashew production takes place in Africa and India. These tropical climates provide ideal conditions for growing cashews, which tend to be difficult to grow due to their unique soil and climate requirements. Cashew harvesting is also a labor-intensive process, requiring skilled workers to shell the nuts by hand. All of these factors contribute to the cost of this type of nut.
Harvesting and processing cashews.
Harvesting cashew nuts requires great precision and skill, as even the slightest damage to the nuts can render them unusable. For this reason, harvesting is still done by hand, despite the development of more automated methods for harvesting other nuts. Once the cashew fruit is ripe, workers, mostly women, pick it from the trees and separate the nut from its protective shell by hand. Then a bleaching and drying process must take place before the cashews are ready to be shipped around the world.
Adverse weather conditions.
Cashews grow best in climates with abundant rainfall and temperatures between 75° and 85° Fahrenheit, making the tropical regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia the primary sources of cashews. Climates outside of these regions are often inhospitable for cashew growth or require costly adaptation measures, resulting in higher production costs. All of this creates an environment where maladjustment, uncertain weather conditions, and even labor shortages can contribute to higher cashew prices.
Shipping costs add to the price tag.
In addition to growing costs, there is also the issue of shipping costs. Cashews must be shipped from their country of origin to global markets, which has a cost. Shipping costs can range from the cost of the container of nuts to handling and processing fees. All of this contributes to higher cashew prices in other regions.
Small crop yields contribute to high cashew prices.
Cashews are difficult to harvest and yield very small crops. Once a cashew tree has produced fruit, it can take up to two months for the nut to mature. It is also difficult to extract cashews from their shells, which requires intensive labor and special equipment. With low yields and high harvesting costs, this contributes to the high cost of bringing cashews to market.