Two cashew kernels on the ground
October 2022

Going to the origins: ALDI leads the way for sustainably sourced African Cashews

Michael Peer
Michael Peer
Manager of Value Chain Optimization

The ALDI SOUTH Group embarked on a cashew journey to Côte d’Ivoire and partnered with West African-based suppliers to bring sustainably sourced cashews, that are grown and processed locally, to its customers.


Raw cashew fruits hanging from tree

Eaten in many different forms, cashews have become essential elements of our diets. The global production of cashews continues to grow annually and has almost doubled in the last decade. To date, cashews represent 16% of the world’s nut production and they are the fourth most consumed nut after almonds, walnuts and pistachios (Source: The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation (INC) 2022 statistics).

Cashews sustain millions of livelihoods in all parts of the world, from farmers through processors to traders. They are predominantly cultivated by smallholder farmers, where the land is mainly passed down through generations, making cashew production often a family business. Starting in February in West Africa, millions of people get involved in cashew harvesting and since the entire crop does not ripen all at once, this activity can extend up to 75 days.

With so many people involved in bringing cashews to our stores, it is challenging to gain an overview of the supply chain and ensure that human rights are safeguarded. At ALDI, we took this challenge seriously and set out to better understand all aspects of the supply chain such as working conditions and specific issues affecting women and smallholder farmers.

The African Cashew Journey

Cashews are different to other nut supply chains because they are not always grown and processed in the same country. In fact, significant volumes of the raw cashew nuts are grown in West or East Africa and then get transported to Vietnam or India for cracking and shelling to obtain the cashew kernel. From there, they are exported to manufacturers around the world for final processing such as roasting, salting and/or flavouring, as well as packing before reaching retail stores.

The cashew supply chain is a global and complex journey that few individuals truly know about. The long journey undergone by cashews leads to several challenges such as extra transport and shipping that create greater environmental emissions.

Through our African Cashew Project, cashews are shipped directly from West Africa to the ALDI markets, where they are packed and sold, therefore shortening the supply chain whilst maintaining the same excellent quality and taste. By sourcing directly in the country of origin, we not only succeed in reducing supply chain emissions and complexity, but we also support existing processors and help to improve the livelihoods of farmers, factory workers and their families. In this way, value is reinvested into the community and supports the financial independence of the pre-dominantly female workforce on the farms and in factories.

The African Cashew Journey

ALDI travels to Côte d’Ivoire

ALDI travels to Cote d'Ivoire

In March 2022, ALDI embarked on a cashew journey to find out exactly where our cashews come from and how we can best support the workers and farmers in our supply chain. For the first time in ALDI history, a delegation of six people from three different departments travelled to Côte d’Ivoire, leaving behind the winter in Europe to greet the hot, humid air of the French-speaking coastal country. Making our way through the bustling city of Abidjan, we were warmly greeted by our local partners and prepared to discover the unique characteristics of the African cashew industry. The team spent one week travelling across the region meeting with suppliers and visiting cashew processing facilities and farming cooperatives.

From Abidjan, our journey continued north to Yamoussoukro and Bouaké. In the first couple of days, we travelled to cashew factories and learned in detail about all the steps cashews go through and the meticulous quality control carried out by the workers on the factory floor. At the processing stage, the cashews go through a series of machines for calibration, steaming, cracking, peeling, and sorting. These steps employ over 1 million workers worldwide where, on average, 20% of the processing is performed by hand, mainly by women. Each cashew is manually checked to achieve the optimal size and colour desired by the customer. Any cashew which does not fit the desired specifications goes through the processing steps again and is transformed into either flour or cashew butter or is utilised as an ingredient, such as in pesto or muesli.

Cashew getting peeled
Raw cashews drying on the ground
Cashews being processed in a factory

After touring the factories, our team drove several hours north to the cashew growing region on the outskirts of the city, Bouaké. That afternoon, we visited three village cooperatives, where we were greeted by the village chiefs, the farmers and their families and taken to see the ripening cashew trees. We were astonished to learn how the cashews are carefully collected from the ground and individually detached from their cashew apple. In doing so, the nut is protected from the acidic juice of the apple and placed out in the sun to dry for several days. Akin to the cashew factory stage, the labour force of the harvesting stage is composed predominantly of women. Overall, women account for up to 95% of the entire cashew workforce.

The Cashew Apple

Hand holding raw cashew with fruit

The cashew apple is a fake fruit (i.e. an accessory to the nut) which is very juicy, sweet and rich in vitamin C, but it has an astringent aftertaste. It is generally consumed in cashew producing regions but rarely marketed because it is difficult to preserve and legends about its dangers limit the use of the product. The cashew nut, or true fruit, is a kidney-shaped drupe that develops at the bottom of the apple containing a single seed, the cashew kernel. The kernel is surrounded by a double shell containing acid, which, if cracked without protective equipment, can burn the skin.

From the cashew trees, we made our way to the village square to observe the sale of cashews between a farmer and a local buying agent. During this transaction, cashew samples are taken from the large jute bags and tested to determine the kernel output ratio, i.e. the estimated size of the kernels inside the nut. This process is of utmost importance to the farmers as it determines the amount of money they will get paid for their crop. Following this, the cashews are placed onto a truck and taken either to a warehouse to be stored or a processing facility.

Raw cashew nuts in warehouse

Our many conversations with local actors on the factory floor and in cashew villages enabled us to gain in-depth knowledge on the challenges and key impact drivers of Ivorian cashews. These first-hand experiences not only help us to better understand how we can best support the local cashew-growing communities, but they are also pivotal to promote sustainability standards within our cashew supply chains.

Our journey ended back where we started, in Abidjan, where the team exchanged key learnings and enjoyed a final Ivorian sunset together before returning to Europe.

Mapping the cashew value chain as a first step to improving business practices

A key element to increasing the sustainability of cashews is to know where they come from. In our visit to Côte d’Ivoire, we were able to learn about the fascinating journey of the nuts from the moment they fall from the trees to when they are ready to be packed, and all the actors involved in the process.

Despite the great potential of cashews, there can be many challenges that arise throughout the value chain. Increasing transparency of the value chain and the traceability of our nuts is a steppingstone for us to improve our business practices and promote sustainability within our cashew supply chain. By knowing where our cashews are grown, we are better equipped to support our business partners and ensure that our cashew products are of ultimate quality and sustainability.

African Cashew Value Chain

The three pioneering cashew products

Through our cashew journey, we have partnered with West African-based actors to make our cashew supply chain future-proof. This resulted in three pioneering cashew products in eight different ALDI markets.


ALDI UK Cashew product

ALDI UK was the first supermarket to launch the African Cashews Special product in May 2022 with a QR code on-pack to help customers find out more about the journey of the cashew kernel from farm to fork.

ALDI Australia


ALDI Australia’s Forresters Fairtrade Cashews are available since August 2022 in three varieties: Natural Cashews, Dry Roasted Cashews and Roasted & Salted Cashews.

ALDI Germany, Suisse, Italy, Hungary and HOFER Austria and Slovenia 

Afrika Cashewkerne

The Fairtrade and organic cashews arrived in Germany and HOFER branches at the start of September 2022. Their eye-catching and colourful cup exemplify their origins and the label can be peeled open to find out more about their unique story.

The way forward

The launch of these unique cashew products helps to strengthen our commitment to uphold human rights in our supply chains, reduce our environmental footprint and provide high quality products for our customers. By sourcing cashews from their country of origin, we take a step closer to reaching the ALDI Vision 2030 of “making sustainability affordable for our customers”.

We are committed to continuously improving our business practices around the world and expanding our portfolio of sustainable products. With this cashew journey, we are confident that we can drive positive changes in our supply chain through smart partnerships which support cashew growers and workers.

Find out more


ALDI CR Vision 2030

Human Rights

Transparency in supply chains
Transparency in supply chains
Partner for change
Partner for change
Upholding human rights
Upholding human rights
CR into buying
CR into buying

Resource Efficiency

Sourcing sustainably
Sourcing sustainably

Sustainable Development Goals

8 Decent work and economic growth 12 Responsible consumption and production 17 Partnerships for the goals