Understanding Cashew Quality & Pricing
1. Grading is based on the status of nuts after processing, ie., Wholes, Splits, Pieces and Bits.
2. Quality is further graded on color , ie., White or Scorched. During processing some nuts change color into off-white due to heat and hence named scorched. Dessert wholes is a cashew nut that may be slightly shriveled, immature, or maybe brown speckled or blemished on the surface, provided that not more than 60 percent of the kernels are affected. and is known internationally as Dessert wholes cashew. Scorched and Dessert Wholes are used for garnishing of food, roasting, and value additions like masala / pepper cashews.
3. Wholes are sub graded as per size., or more specifically, Count / Pound, ie., 180, 210, 240, 320, 450, etc.. 180 is the largest and 450 is the smallest sized whole nuts. We grade as per BIS standards, and so 180 would mean 120 to 180 nuts per pound, 240 means, 220 to 240 and so on.
Note: Quality standards and specifications are laid down by Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPC), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Brazilian cashew industry, Vietnamese cashew industry and Association of Food Industries (AFI, New York). Click here to view Bureau of Indian Standards Specification for Cashew Kernels.
4. As per AFI and UNECE standards, kernels are with no more than 1/8th of the kernel broken off also considered as whole. Indian CEPC and BIS standards do not specify allowable limit for broken off part of the kernel which may be mutually agreed between two contracting parties.
5. 180 count nuts are also called as King. Yet some call these as Jumbo and labelled as J without actually giving a count. Sometimes, they even use terms like JJ or JJH which is difficult to identify in metrics. JJ perhaps means 150 count but cannot be said with conviction.
5. Grade SPLIT means, whole nuts which have split or broken into TWO pieces during processing. In the other parlance, JH means split half of a 180 grade. These are generally used as topping on sweets and garnishing.
(a) One is natural split into two beans.
(b) And Butts are defined as the kernels of not less than 3/8 of a whole kernel which have been broken cross wise but the cotyledons are still naturally attached.
6. Grade “Pieces” has further Sub Grades as follows:
(a) Large White Pieces (LWP). These are also referred generally as 4 pieces of wholes or two pieces of a Split. But in real life, nuts don’t exactly break into 4 pieces . So, while grading, the larger pieces are grouped into LWP. These are generally used in confectionary, cakes, savories like mixtures, or crushed for thickening of gravies or sweets.
(b) Small White Pieces (SWP) and (SWP-1). These are smaller pieces, generally 8 pieces to 12 pieces of a whole. SWP-1 is smaller than SWP. These are generally used in confectionaries like chocolates, ice creams, etc, or for thickening of gravies or making sweets like Kaju Katli.
7. Grade Baby Bits are the smallest pieces and generally used in confectionaries or further crushed for thicken gravies / making sweets.
8. Grade Crushed – self explanatory. These may even have pieces of cashew skin mixed in them. We don’t sell them.
In the J parlance, some have innovated names like JK for these large and small pieces . It is very difficult to identify this kind of grading because the moment a Jumbo breaks, it is difficult to identify if it indeed was jumbo or other grades like 240 breaking.
About markets, generally, the large & small pieces and baby bits are purchased by food outlets for thickening gravies, or by savory makers like namkeens and mixtures or by Sweets manufacturers for their kaju katlis.
Recapitulating the above, pricing is based on size, color & count againts weight of nuts , say, 320 nuts per pound. Whole White and Scorched variants of these have different prices. The difference between white and scorched can be confusing to the casual user. But the prices are distinct. So when some dealer says he has better rates, do ask if they can actually differentiate qualities even though they may be dealing in this for many many years..
So 180 count is largest , followed by 240, 320, 450 being the smallest WHOLE. Next you have the SPLITS. Again, same for white and scorched criteria. You can compare the price differentials.
To understand the Whole’s sizing, take 100 grams of whatever you have in last month’s stock, count the number and you will know the Sizing . For color one just needs to discern the color difference between white and off-white.
For wholesalers, you may order Whole White 320, Whole Scorched 240, Split Scorched, and Baby Bits. You may buy more of Baby Bits because these sell in bulk for use in gravies, and crushed for sweets etc..
Hope the above helps in understanding cashew grades, quality, names and pricing. If the metrics are understood, samples are not required. Quality and grading are quite distinct metrics for evaluating quality to be delivered. For more detailed specifications please see the below.
Cashew Gold is the brand name for quality cashews sourced from farmers across the World to your table after processing them in World Class processing facilities in India by Global Business Inc registered with FSSAI and APEDA for quality and are priced at concurrent market prices.
Standards and Specifications
- In AFI standards, the whole kernels are classified as First quality fancy, Second quality scorched/color variation, Third quality scorched/color variation, Fourth quality and Dessert based on colour and appearance.
- In UNECE standards, the kernels are classified as “Extra” class, Class I and Class II based on the colour, appearance, uniformity, etc.
- In CEPC standards, wholes are further classified as “White wholes” (W), “Scorched wholes” (SW) and “Dessert wholes” (DW) based on colour and appearance.
- In Brazilian standards, the wholes are designated as “wholes’ (W1), ‘scorched wholes” (W2), “second scorched wholes” (W3) and “Fourth quality wholes” (W4).
- AFI: compulsory for first quality fancy and optional for other whole grades.
- UNECE: compulsory for Extra class and optional for Class I and Class II.
- In CEPC standards, Sizing is given for “white wholes” and “scorched wholes” and not for “Dessert wholes”. Brazilian standards: It seems that sizing exists for “wholes” and “Scorched wholes” but not for “second scorched wholes” and “Fourth quality wholes”.
In AFI standards specifications are given clearly for serious damage and defects for all the whole grade classifications whereas,
In UNECE standards, the allowable tolerance limits are given specifically for Extra class, Class I and Class II.
In CEPC standards, specifications are given for allowable percentage of brokens and maximum moisture content and it is 5% for both.
BIS standards broken and next lower grade should not exceed by 5 % of the weight of the packing. The other requirements such as free from moulds, insects, extraneous matters etc are just mentioned and no specific tolerable limits are given. But it has been specified that the kernels should be completely free from rancidity.
AFI standards: Next lower grade (NLG) should not exceed by 10% of the weight of the wholes.
UNECE standards: NLG should not exceed by 5% for “Extra” class and 7.5% for Class I.
CEPC standards: The allowable limit for next lower grade is 5% for white wholes and 7.5% for Scorched and Dessert wholes.
BIS standards: The allowable limit for next lower grade for wholes is 5%.
Definition: In AFI standards, the butts are defined as the kernels that are less than 7/8 but not less than 3/8 of a whole kernel and the cotyledons are still naturally attached. The splits are defined as the kernel one half of which has been split length wise provided not more than 1/8 of this cotyledon has been broken off.
In UNECE standards, brokens are defined as those kernels where 1/8 or more of the original kernel is broken off. Brokens are further classified into butts, splits and pieces.
- Butts are defined as the kernels of not less than 3/8 of a whole kernel which have been broken cross wise but the cotyledons are still naturally attached.
- Splits are the kernels that are split length wise.
- Pieces are the kernels that are broken more than two pieces.
(The specification for buts in AFI and UNECE standards are same.)
In BIS and CEPC standards, the kernels that are broken cross wise and naturally attached are described as butts and kernels that are split naturally lengthwise are described as splits. No specific size as part of the wholes is given.
Classification of pieces:
- In AFI standards, the pieces are classified as “large pieces”, “small pieces”, “chips or small pieces”, “grains, granules or baby bits”, “fine grains”, “fines”, and “mixed pieces” based on the size.
- In UNECE standards, the pieces are classified as “Large pieces”, “Small pieces”, “Very small pieces”, “Baby bits or granule” based on the size.
- In Brazilian standards, the pieces are broadly classified as “large pieces”, “small pieces”, “small Brazilian pieces” and “Brazilian granules” based on size.
- In CEPC and BIS standards, the pieces are broadly classified as “white pieces”, “scorched pieces” and “Dessert pieces” based mainly on the colour and appearance.
- In AFI, CEPC, BIS and Brazilian standards, within the broad classification of pieces there are various grade designations.
Size tolerances in various standards for broken and pieces:
- For Butts and splits: NLG (Next Lower Grade) should not exceed by 10% by weight.
- For Pieces: NLG should not exceed by 5% by weight.
- For butts and splits: NLG should not exceed 5% by weight for all the three classes namely, “Extra”, “Class I” and “Class II”.
- For pieces: NLG should not exceed 5% by weight for “Extra” class and 7% by weight for the other two classes
- For butts and splits, the grades, SSP, LWP, & SWP: NLG should not exceed by 5% by weight.
- For SB, SS, SP, SPS, DP: NLG should not exceed 7.5% by weight.
- For Baby bits: NLG should not exceed by 1% by weight.
- For white pieces and scorched pieces: NLG should not exceed 5% by weight.
- For dessert pieces: NLG should not exceed 10% by weight.
The NLG limit specified in CEPC and UNECE standards seem to be same more or less
Packing and marking:
The general particulars to be marked as specified in the standards are:
- Name of the product and trade name or brand name
- Name and address of the producer or packer
- Net weight
- Country of origin
- Buyer’s name or marks
- Other marks agreed to by buyer and seller.
The specifications regarding the particulars to be marked remain almost the same for the standards except that AFI has specified that country of origin is to be given and BIS has specified that name of the country where packed is to be given.
UNECE standards has specified that the marking for small retail packs should be made such that the letters are grouped on the same side, legibly and indelibly. Variety name or commercial type is also to be mentioned along with the country of origin. The optional specifications are crop year and the district or regional or local place name where the packed cashews are grown.
In CEPC standards, specifications regarding marking are not given.
In CEPC standards, specifications are given for packing and standard weight, and shipping.
UNECE standards has specified that the use of materials like paper or stamps bearing trade specifications is allowed only if the printing or labeling has been done with non toxic ink or glue. Also the use of lead solder is not permitted. However, the exact size of boxes is not specified
Practices in cashew trade:
Currently, most of the Indian traders use standards as recommended by CEPC, while some of them also follow AFI standards.