Why are Cashews so Expensive?

It is innate that all of us look at the price of the products while buying them. While buying cashews, budget-conscious people often question why these are so expensive, unlike other nuts.

This article is for you and will answer your query. Being a famous member of the nuts family, cashews are loved by everyone because of their flavorful taste. People often eat them with a combination of nuts like almonds, peanuts, and walnuts as a snack.

Cashew nuts are nutritionally good for heart health and overall health because they contain good fatty acids. Because of these two features, these nuts are considered premium and in high demand. According to the stats in 2020, the largest amount of imports was made to Vietnam, the US, India, Netherlands, and China, worth up to $1.56B.

Because of their growth and processing complexity, these cashews cost a hefty amount of money. These two are the main factors for keeping them on the pricy end of the spectrum. They are grown on cashew trees which cashew apples hang from and are covered by shells. These kidneys-shaped, shelled nuts are known as “drupes”. The seeds (nuts) are removed from the branches and separated from the cashew apples.

You must be wondering what happens to the cashew apples. These apples are tangy in taste and are not admired by people for raw eating, so these are used for making jams (2).

Afterward, shells are removed from the nuts, and then the nuts are taken for the drying process by hand to remove the shell’s toxic liquid. Machines can’t assist here to cut the cost of processing since cashews are brittle and require gentle treatment. Then they are steamed. This laborious and tedious work for its processing increases the cashew cost.

After processing and packaging are complete, the appetizing cashew nuts are imported worldwide, which adds to the distribution charges from one country to another. All this effort justifies the high price of cashew nuts in the US.

Why raw cashews expensive processing is insanely important for its sales?

Without the proper rigorous processing steps, cashews are not only not edible but also harmful to human health because cashews trees are a member of the poison ivy family, so they produce a specific toxin. Cashew trees contain a poison called “urushiol”, brown oil inside the shell. This shell, if not removed, can cause burns and itches. This toxin is removed by human force instead of machinery. Shell removal is itself a risky step as the husk is laden with tannins that can cause a sore throat. According to the cashews processors, workers can remove only 2.5 kg of cashew nut shells per day.

Why are cashew nuts prices non-affordable in the US?

The price of cashew nuts has hiked all over the world. The world used 770,000 metric tons of cashews in 2017. One of the world’s most popular and expensive nuts, they are valued at over $6 billion. In addition to Sri Lanka, cashews are grown in Vietnam, Ivory Coast, and India.

As we mentioned, a toxin called urushiol is present in cashew plants, which is related to poison ivy and belongs to the same family. The plant contains it, like the dark oil found in nuts. Therefore, unprocessed cashews are considered unsafe to eat or touch since they can result in burns, itches, and blisters. They also need more thorough processing than other nuts because of this.

Previously in 2017, 1 kilogram of cashew nuts was US$ 6.48, then the price raised to US$ 8.26 in 2018. However, the export value of the nuts dwindles over time.

US cashew nuts are expected to cost between US$3.37 and US$3.75 per pound or between US$7.44 and US$8.26 per kilogram in 2022. The cost per kilogram in euros is EUR 7.44. The average ton cost in New York and Washington is US$ 7439.58 (3).

Why are cashew trees not grown in the US?

Cashews known as Anacardium Occidentale are mainly grown in tropical areas. These are natively produced in India, Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, South East Asia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Cape Verde, and Vietnam. Seeing as the cashew tree’s habitat is not produced in the US due to the climate difference, they are grown elsewhere. These trees typically mature and grow at a temperature of 25 degrees. However, in the US, the temperature is either too hot or extremely cold in winter. Meanwhile, cashews require a non-fluctuating and static temperature environment.

How does the import of cashews affect its cost?

Cashews are in high demand in the US. They are widely used in confectionery, chocolates, nutty bars, cashew chicken, and cream. In addition, cashews are added in many recipes to give a speck of scrumptious taste. In the US, cashews are not natively produced but imported from other countries.

According to the stats of the US cashew market, it was reported in 2020 that Vietnam is the largest exporter (89%) of cashew nuts that are in the shell. Other than Vietnam, Cote D’Ivoire and Honduran account for 9% and 2% of the exports, respectively (4). Besides these countries, cashews are also imported from India and Netherlands.

How does the demand and production ratio affect the cost of cashews?

The demand for cashews in the US has increased over time, from 143.25 tons (2016) to 158.1 tons (2019). The total production of cashews is limited since cashews are produced once a year and require a plethora of time for harvesting and processing.

Sourced by Mordor Intelligence (4)

Why cashews are more expensive than peanuts?

Peanut plants take 120 days to fully mature and are replanted every year. However, cashew trees are grown over a long tenure. After three years of planting cashew, plants start to grow. They reach full maturity in the tenth year and continue to produce lucrative harvests for an additional 20 years. The cashew nut harvest takes place from February through May.

Harvesting typically involves selecting the matured nuts that have fallen to the ground. Meanwhile, peanuts are a leguminous plant that grows easily and is harvested early.

Secondly, peanuts are not temperature sensitive and can be planted in any region, while cashew trees are only grown in tropical environments. Thirdly, peanuts don’t require complicated processing however, cashew trees are obtained by intensive labor since they need a series of complex harvesting, drying, and processing steps. Lastly, the overall growth of peanuts per annum is 34M tons. In contrast, only 2.7M tons of cashew nuts are produced annually (5).

Are cashew nuts worth the price in the US?

This article enlightened why cashews are expensive, but you should decide for yourself if it is a worthy purchase. Your answer will be “yes” if you get to know the multiple benefits of cashews. So, let’s dig into the reasons that can justify your purchase.

Firstly, it is typical that diets in the US consist of more saturated fat. They consume these fats in the form of fried foods, confectionary, transfat laden patties. According to science, these fats only invite health issues for the consumer, and their intake should be limited to only 7% daily. But people can binge on good fats that are beneficial for them. These polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids are present in nuts, and cashews are their richest source.

Secondly, these cashews are high in fiber and a good plant-based protein source. Fiber is thought to give protection against type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.

They are loaded with minerals like copper, manganese, and magnesium. 28 grams of unsalted cashew nuts can fulfill 67% of the daily requirement of copper and will provide 157 calories. All these are essential for brain and skin health.

These are regularly associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Many studies have found that eating cashews lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Moreover, these can give a good satiety feeling that will curb your hunger (6).

What should you do if you can’t afford cashews?

Cashews are the main ingredient of many desserts, dishes, and drinks. Without it, the flavor is not enhanced and can be bland. To cater to this issue you can choose other low-cost nuts that are equally as nutritious and beneficial for your health. You can choose almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnut, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seed, silken tofu, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and a combination of zucchini and pine.


  1. Cashew nuts, fresh or dried | OEC – The Observatory of Economic Complexity [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 5]. Available from: https://oec.world/en/profile/hs/cashew-nuts-fresh-or-dried
  2. September 12 CWU, 2019. People Can’t Believe That THIS Is How Cashews Grow [Internet]. MyRecipes. [cited 2022 Oct 2]. Available from: https://www.myrecipes.com/news/how-do-cashews-grow
  3. Page Analysis » Selina Wamucii [Internet]. Selina Wamucii. [cited 2022 Oct 2]. Available from: https://www.selinawamucii.com/insights/prices/united-states-of-america/cashew-nuts/
  4. United States Cashew Market | 2022 – 27 | Industry Share, Size, Growth – Mordor Intelligence [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 2]. Available from: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/united-states-cashew-market
  5. Why Do Cashews Cost More Than Peanuts? [Internet]. Our Everyday Life. [cited 2022 Oct 2]. Available from: https://oureverydaylife.com/why-do-cashews-cost-more-than-peanuts-12628519.html
  6. Are Cashews Good for You? Nutrition, Benefits, and Downsides [Internet]. Healthline. 2020 [cited 2022 Oct 2]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-cashews-good-for-you