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The cashew fruit consists of two distinct parts, a fleshy stalk in the form of a pear, also called cashew apple, with a brilliant yellow or red skin, and a nut of grey-brownish colour, in the shape of a kidney, which hangs from the lower end of the stalk or apple.
Juices, syrups, preserves, wine or liqueurs are derived from the apple but the main commercial use is the cashew nut itself; shelled, roasted and salted for the snack industry and as an ingredient in the confectionery, cereal and ready meals industry.
The principal producing and exporting countries of cashews are Vietnam, India and Brazil. Raw cashew nuts are also grown in large quantities in West Africa and shipped to Vietnam and India for processing.
Whole cashews are size graded by average count per lb, and the most common size is W320, i.e. 320 kernels per lb. Broken grades are classified slightly differently from each origin but generally fall into Splits, Large Pieces (LP), Small Pieces (SP) and bits.
A uniform white colouration is important to retail customers so discoloured, spotted or scorched kernels and pieces are used in processing or sold to Asian and Middle East markets at a discount.
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