Starting a Cashew Nut Processing Business

Cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is widely grown in the tropics because of its cashew nuts and apples. The cashew apple can be eaten raw or used in the production of jam, chutney, pickles or various beverages like juice and wine.

The primary product of cashew nut is the kernel which is used extensively in the confectionery and baking trade. The cashew nut kernels are popular dessert, generally eaten roasted and salted.

The main goal of processing is to remove the valuable cashew kernel from the shell with minimal damage. Difficulties in shelling cashew nuts are due to irregular shape of the nut, the tough leathery outer shell and the cashew nut shell liquid.

Starting the Business

In cashew processing, micro-entrepreneurs can start with two shellers and a charcoal-fired oven to produce plain roasted cashew kernel. This combination of cashew postharvest facilities can be operated at a minimum input level of 4,000 kg cashew nuts. This will require a working capital of P50.000 worth of cashew nuts and processing facilities worth P18,000 including the weighing scale, kalukati, impulse sealer and others. This investment can generate a net income of P125,000 for a period of only two months with a Return on Investment (ROI) of 68.64% and a payback period of 1.46 years.

Processing Operations

The various cashew nut processing steps differ in accordance with the scale of operation. In some cases, all steps of the processing are manually carried out by small-scale processors. In commercial processing, various pieces of equipment are used. The cashew nut processing operations consist of cleaning, roasting, shelling, separation, drying, peeling, grading and packing.

Cashew Nut Processing

  1. Clean cashew nuts of foreign matters like sand, stones and dried apple.
  2. Dry the shelled kernel to facilitate removal of testa. Drying protects the kernel from pests and fungi attack
  3. Shell big cashew nuts with the BPRE cashew nut sheller. Split the other nuts using kalukati (an indigenous tool).
  4. Separate the shelled pieces from the kernels. The unshelled nuts are returned to the shelling operation.
  5. Peel the testa manually by gently rubbing with fingers. It is important that the kernels are neither cut nor damaged during the peeling process.
  6. Roast the cashew nuts to release the cashew nut shell liquid and make the shell brittle. This will facilitate the extraction of the kernel when breaking the shell open
  7. Grade the kernels for quality control. Shelled, dried and peeled kernels are graded for export according to size and condition.
  8. Pack into appropriate containers the cashew kernels.

Whole kernels command higher price than do broken pieces.

To produce whole,Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL)-free cashew kernels, BPRE adapted from Khon Khaen University of Thailand, a low cost, manually-operated shelter for small-scale processors.

The BPRE whole cashew kernel sheller produces more whole kernels. Moreover, the sheller is locally manufactured, very affordable and easy to operate.

The following are the specifications of the BPRE whole cashew kernel sheller:

  • Height : 25 cm
  • Weight : 2.35 kg
  • Base dimension : 12 cm X 12 cm
  • Shelling capacity : 30 kg raw nuts/ 8 hr operation
  • Shelling efficiency :
    • 53 % whole kernel
    • 47 % split kernel
  • Labor requirement : 1 person

For more information, contact:

DA-BPRE, CLSU Compound
Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija
Tel: (044) 4560-213/290/282/287

source: DA-BPRE, photo from

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