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Agriculture > Plantation Crops > Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)

Products & Standards


Three main cashew products are traded on the international market - raw nuts, cashew kernels and cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL). A fourth product - the cashew apple is generally processed and consumed locally.

Cashew nuts


The raw cashew nut is the main commercial product of the cashew tree, though yields of the cashew apple are eight to ten times the weight of the raw nuts. Raw nuts are either exported or processed prior to export. Processing of the raw nuts releases the by-product CNSL that has industrial and medicinal applications. The skin of the nut is high in tannins and can be recovered and used in the tanning of hides. The fruit of the cashew tree that surrounds the kernel can be made into a juice with a high vitamin C content and fermented to give a high proof spirit.

Cashew kernels

It is estimated that 60 percent of cashew kernels are consumed in the form of snacks while the remaining 40 percent are included in confectionery. The cashew competes in the same market as other edible nuts including almonds, hazels, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, pistachios and peanuts. There has recently been a considerable rise in demand for edible nuts by consumers interested in quality and health aspects of food. The breakfast cereal, health food, salads and baked goods markets are all expanding markets for cashew nuts.

One major factor that affects the consumption of cashew kernels in world markets is competition from other tree nuts. The major importers in developed countries contract their requirement for the whole year based on the sales from previous years. If prices of a commodity fluctuate over a wide range, they will not want to trade in that item for fear of incurring heavy losses. Since cashew cultivation is not organised on a plantation scale in most producing countries, year to year variation in crop yield is a regular feature resulting in wide price fluctuations for cashew kernels. On the other hand, almonds and pistachios are grown in very large plantations in the United States and thus their prices are steady year after year.

Cashew nut shell liquid

Cashew nut processing allows for the development of an important by-product which can increase its added value. The liquid inside the shell (CNSL) represents 15 percent of the gross weight and has some attractive possible medicinal and industrial uses. CNSL is one of the few natural resins that is highly heat resistant and is used in braking systems and in paint manufacture. It contains a compound known as anacardium, which is used to treat dermatological disorders. The main markets for CNSL are the United States, the European Union (mainly the United Kingdom), Japan and the Republic of Korea. Together these account for over ninety percent of world trade, most of which is supplied by India and Brazil.

Product standards

Agmark speicifications for cashew kernels (pdf)
Agmark specifications for raw nuts (pdf)

FPO specifications for fruit products


Minimum fruit juice %

Minimum TSS%

Acidity max. %

Max. preservative (free SO2) ppm











Ready to serve beverages






BIS Specifications

The revised specification of Bureau of Indian Standard, New Delhi, for untreated Cashewnut Shell Liquid (IS:840-1964).

Specific gravity 30º/30º
0.950 to 0.970
Viscosity at 30ºC in centipoises
Moisture, percent by weight
Matter insoluble in toluene, percent by weight
Loss in weight on heating, percent by weight
Ash, percent by weight


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