Strict rules on quality make competing in the highly profitable American cashew market difficult. With help from the NEXTT project, however, a Nigerian cashew processor has broken into the lucrative U.S. market.
“There was a sense of fulfillment amongst everyone, from management to the junior staff, as the container was being loaded with our cashew kernel ahead of its departure for Los Angeles,” said Pawand Heer, export manager of Valency Cashew Processing Limited.
It is not easy to break in to the U.S. market. U.S. Government regulations are strictly enforced, and buyers demand high quality, too. Exporters need to pay close attention to detail to succeed and provide a great product at the same time – and doing that requires a lot of technical information.
Unfortunately, that information is not so easily available, and it is not stored neatly in one place. But in the cashew sector, the NEXTT project has connected the sources of that information, bringing in experts from the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), facilitating connections with buyers and ensuring access to U.S. agencies that enforce import rules on food products, primarily at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The project’s assistance is also helping Valency address issues it faces in its production in Nigeria. NEXTT staff is leading consultations with the Ogun State government and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) with the Nigeria Gas Company on addressing the company’s power challenge, which is inhibiting its production capacity, as thousands more jobs can be created if Valency operates at its full capacity Valency has delivered its first order of 17 metric tons of cashew kernels and now has orders pending with two other major American buyers.
“We needed a U.S. contact to achieve the initial transaction, but we did not have one,” Heer said. “We also did not know anything about USFDA registration, which is required to import food material into the U.S. We were able to do this thanks to NEXTT’s assistance and guidance as they led us through the diverse stages of the very crucial FDA registration process.”