Vietnam is forecast to face difficulties in exporting cashew products since global supply has increased, heard a recent seminar in Ho Chi Minh City.

"Global output is forecast to increase by 10-15 percent this year to around three million tonnes of raw nut thanks to favourable weather conditions," Nguyen Minh Hoa, Director of BIMICO, a processor based in Tay Ninh province, said.

In Vietnam it would increase by 15-20 percent to 500,000-550,000 tonnes, he told the seminar organised by the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas) and the Agricultural Economic Reporters' Club.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, exporters shipped 51,000 tonnes of processed cashew for 319 million USD in the first quarter, a year-on-year increase of 19.1 percent in volume and 21.6 percent in value.

But exports would begin to slow down until June, Hoa said.

The US and the EU, major markets both, have not imported much this year and so for at least two more months, they would have high demand, he said.

Ta Quang Nguyen, Director of Hoang Son 1 Co, Ltd in Binh Phuoc province, said in the first quarter China had high demand for Vietnamese cashew, but this is likely to dry up this quarter due to a depreciation of the Chinese yuan, higher transportation costs, and other reasons.

The cashew harvest season has ended in the south-eastern region, and the association urged its members to buy out the raw nuts from farmers by the end of this month.

As for import of raw cashew for processing for export, Nguyen Duc Thanh, Vinacas Chairman, said firms should carefully consider prices and timing to avoid risks since processed-cashew prices are lower than last year.

The association unveiled a Vietnam cashew value programme that targets raising the value of exports, promoting consumption both in the domestic and foreign markets, and build brands for the country's cashew products.

For the programme, to be implemented from this year through 2020, the association will co-operate with the HCM City Nutrition Centre to research and assess the nutritional benefits of cashew, Dang Hoang Giang, Vinacas Deputy Chairman, said.

It will collaborate with the Global Cashew Council and its nutritional research programme to promote the nutritional aspects of Vietnamese cashew globally.

The 20 billion VND (947,000 USD) programme will build national cashew brands, register trademark to protect Vietnamese cashew products in key markets like the US, China, and EU, and develop new products suitable for local tastes, Giang said.

Despite being the world's largest cashew exporter and having quality products, Vietnam is unable to get higher export prices than for lower-quality products due to lack of marketing and brands, he said.

The programme is expected to improve the situation and enable stable development of the local industry, he added.-VNA