Vietnam's first-quarter cashew exports grew in most major markets with the exception of largest buyer, the US, where shipments dropped 20 percent to 8,000 tons, said the Vietnam Cashew Association.
The association said local exporters earned US$42.4 million, or a fall of 4 percent year-on-year, from the US market.
Dang Hoang Giang, the association's secretary general, said the development was a surprise as cashew demand was growing on the back of the global economic recovery.
Giang told Thanh Nien Weekly the association would conduct a small survey to evaluate developments on the US cashew market.
"Could there really be a fall in demand on the [US] market?" he said.
Globally, Vietnam exported 30,600 tons of cashew nuts worth $160 million, a 13.5 percent increase from January to March, said the association which added the export's price had risen $780 to $5,213 per ton since last year.
Giang said the association had been promoting a "clean" cashew farming and export project supported by the UK-based non-profit organization Fair Trade.
The move aims to upgrade the quality of cashew nuts for exports, he said.
About 80 farms in Binh Phuoc Province are conducting good agriculture practices as defined by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, according to Giang.
Vietnam's cashew yield has fallen by 15 percent year-onyear in the 2010 season so far, according to the association.
Last year it produced 350,000 tons of cashew nuts and more than 90 percent of the productivity was shipped for export, the association said.
The US market imports 30 percent of Vietnam's cashew exports while China is the second largest customer at 18.3 percent, followed by Holland at 15.3 percent.