cashew classification
Dynamic's of Cashew Nut Grades

Cashew Classification -Cashew Nut Grades - Cashews Grading Chart - Comprehensive Cashew Size Chart

The classification of cashew nuts into various grades is a critical aspect that profoundly influences market dynamics and the cashew industry. It is very important to have an understanding of cashew nut grades and the intricate factors that contribute to the categorization and subsequent market positioning of this versatile nut.

Cashew Classification - A Comprehensive Guide

This guide help you understand various aspects of cashew classification, offering insights into industry standards, grading criteria, and the sophisticated machinery involved in this crucial process. With a focus on size, color, and quality metrics, this comprehensive guide empowers stakeholders in the cashew industry, providing them with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions in procurement, ensuring product excellence, and meeting the evolving demands of the market. Whether you are a producer, buyer, or enthusiast in the cashew sector, this guide offers a nuanced understanding of the factors shaping the classification landscape, contributing to the overall quality and success of the industry.

Cashew Nut Grades

Grading involves the classification of the kernels based on colour, shape and size. Grading can be done manually, using highly-trained skilled labour or with cashew grading machines which can be obtained from different suppliers. Cashew kernels are graded into white (W), scorched (S) and desert (D) for colour and either whole (W) kernels or broken kernels for shape. Broken kernels are further graded by shape into splits (S), butts (B), pieces (P) and baby bits (BB). This is the classification scheme of the Association of Food Industries (AFI).

White Wholes

High-quality whole cashews that are light in color, often ranging from a pale ivory to a light golden hue.

White Wholes 150
White Wholes 180
White Wholes 210
White Wholes 240
White Wholes 450

Scorched White Wholes

Scorched White Wholes are Cashew nuts that have undergone a slightly different processing method, resulting in a distinctive appearance and flavor.

  • Processing Method: The term “scorched” indicates that the cashews have been subjected to a light roasting or heating process during processing.
  • Color and Appearance: Scorched white wholes typically have a light to medium tan color, with a slightly roasted or scorched appearance. This gives them a unique visual appeal compared to the natural pale color of regular white wholes.
  • Flavor Profile: The roasting process imparts a subtle, nutty flavor to the cashews, enhancing their taste and providing a distinct profile compared to raw or conventionally processed cashews.
  • Texture: Despite the roasting, scorched white wholes are still whole cashews, maintaining their characteristic creamy texture.

Broken Cashew Nut Kernels

Broken kernels refer to a specific grade or category of cashew nuts that consists of pieces or fragments of cashew nuts that have been broken during processing. This grade is distinct from whole cashews and is characterized by its smaller, fragmented pieces.

Broken kernels are a natural outcome of the cashew processing cycle, where cashew nuts are separated from their shells and may break into smaller pieces.

Size and Appearance:

Broken kernels vary in size, ranging from small fragments to larger pieces. The appearance is characterized by irregular shapes and may include both halves and quarters of cashew nuts.


Broken kernels are often used in culinary applications where the intact appearance of whole cashews is not crucial. They are commonly utilized in cooking, baking, and food processing, adding the rich flavor and texture of cashews to a variety of dishes.


Broken kernels are typically more cost-effective than whole cashews, making them an attractive option for manufacturers and processors who prioritize value while maintaining the flavor and nutritional benefits of cashews.


Due to their smaller size and lower cost, broken kernels find applications in the food industry for products like snacks, confectionery, and bakery items. They are also used in the production of cashew butter or as ingredients in various culinary creations.


Broken kernels are usually packaged separately from whole cashews to meet the specific needs of consumers and businesses requiring this grade. Packaging may vary, and broken kernels are often available in bulk for industrial use or in smaller quantities for retail consumers.

Nutritional Value:

Despite being broken, the nutritional value of cashew kernels remains intact. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Large White Pieces - LWP
Scorched Pieces Seconds
Splits S
Small Scorched Pieces - SSP
Butts - B
Scorched Butts - SB
Baby Bits - BB
Dessert Pieces - DP

Grading of cashew kernels

Grading ParameterGrading Designation
ColourWhite (W); Scorched (S); Dessert (D)
ShapeWhole (W); Broken kernels
SizeWhole: 140 – 500 – Broken kernels: e.g. splits (S), butts (B), pieces (P) and baby bits (BB)

Classification based on Colour

Cashew kernels are also classified according to colour which is white (W), scorched
(S) or dessert (D). However, the colour classification also takes into account kernel
sizes which are whole or broken pieces.

GradeColor Characteristics
First Quality FancyUniformly white, pale ivory or light yellow.
Second quality scorchedYellow, light brown, light ivory, light ash-grey or deep
Third quality special
Deep yellow, brown, amber, and light to deep blue. They
may be slightly shrivelled, immature, and light-brown
speckled, blemished or otherwise discoloured.
Fourth qualityThey have the same colour characteristics as the first or
second quality but have pitted spots.
Lightly blemished wholes (LBW)Light brown, light ivory, light ash-grey or deep ivory.
Kernels may show light brown speckles or blemishes
on the surface, provided that not more than 40 % of the
kernels are affected.
Lightly blemished pieces
They may be light brown, light ivory, light ash-grey or
deep ivory. Pieces may show light brown speckles or
blemishes on the surface, provided that not more than
20 % of the pieces are affected.
Blemished wholes (BW)
Deep yellow, brown, amber or light to deep blue.
Kernels may be slightly shrivelled, immature or may be
brown speckled or blemished on the surface, provided
that not more than 60 % of the kernels are affected.
Dessert (D)
Cashew kernels may be scraped, deeply scorched,
shrivelled, deep-brown-speckled, black-speckled,
blemished or otherwise discolored.

Classification based on Shape

Depending on their shape, cashew kernels are classified into whole and broken grades which are butts, splits or pieces as follows:

Conventional Grades of cashew kernels

White Kernels
1WW180White Wholes 180
2WW210White Wholes 210
3WW240White Wholes 240
4WW320White Wholes 320
5WW450White Wholes 450
6WW500White Wholes 500
7FB / WBFancy Butts (White Butts)
8FS / WSFancy Splits (White Splits)
9LWPLarge White Pieces
10SWPSmall White Pieces
11BBBaby Bits
Scorched Kernels
SW180Scorched Wholes 180
Scorched Wholes 210
14SW240Scorched Wholes 240
15SW320Scorched Wholes 320
16SW450Scorched Wholes 450
17SW500Scorched Wholes 500
18SBScorched Butts
19SSScorched Splits
20SPScorched Pieces
21SSPScorched Small Pieces
Dessert Kernels
22DWDessert Wholes
23SSWScorched Second Wholes
24DBDesert Butts
25DSDesert Splits
26DPDessert Pieces
27SPSScorched Pieces Second

Cashew kernel sizes are classified in two broad categories:

Sizing of whole kernels includes ‘size count’ of 180, 210, 240, 320, 450 and less frequently 500. Note: the size count is the number of cashew kernels in 1 lb of cashew sample being considered. For the size grade 180, for example, the number of
kernels should ideally be 180 with an allowable range of below 180. That for size grade 210 is 181 to 210.

Sizing of broken kernels includes large and small kernels.

A combination of these sizing characteristics results in 27 conventional international
grades. However, there can be more than 27 grades depending on the country of
origin and market demand.

Classification Order

Grading cashew kernels is done in the order of colour, shape and size. A white coloured whole kernel in the size 180 will be referred to as WW180, meaning White, Whole, size 180. Another example of a grade is SW240, meaning Scorched,
Wholes, size 240. 

However, few exceptions exist in the classification of broken kernels:
A white coloured butt is referred to as FB (fancy butts). Similarly, FS is referred to as fancy splits. Other exceptions are LWP (Large White Pieces) and SWP (Small White Pieces).

Whole (W)
A cashew kernel is classified as whole if it has the
characteristic kidney shape of a cashew kernel and not more
than 1/8 of the kernel has been broken off. This grade is
labelled as grade W.
Butts (B)
Butts are kernels which have been broken crosswise. They are
less than 7/8 but not less than 3/8 of a whole kernel and the
cotyledons are still naturally attached. This grade is labelled
as grade B.
Splits (S)
Splits are kernels that have been split lengthwise and not
more than 1/8 of its cotyledon has been broken off. This
grade is labelled as S.
Pieces are smaller size broken kernels. They are categorized
into the following grades in a decreasing size order:
• large pieces (LWP, SP, SPS, etc.)
• small pieces (SWP, SSP, DSP, etc.)
• chips (CHIPS, SSP1, SSP2, SSP3)
• baby bits (BB, G1, G2, G3)
• fine grains (X)
• fines (FE)
• mixed pieces (P1M, P2M, P3M)

Size Grading: The Significance of Kernel Dimensions

One of the foundational elements in cashew nut grading is size. Cashews are categorized into different sizes based on the number of kernels per pound. This size classification holds substantial significance as it not only influences the visual appeal of the nut but also plays a crucial role in determining its market value. From jumbo cashews prized for their aesthetic appeal to smaller counterparts suitable for various culinary applications, understanding the nuances of size grading is paramount for industry buyers seeking precision in their procurement.

Color Spectrum: Aesthetic Considerations in Cashew Nut Grading

One of the foundational elements in cashew nut grading is size. Cashews are categorized into different sizes based on the number of kernels per pound. This size classification holds substantial significance as it not only influences the visual appeal of the nut but also plays a crucial role in determining its market value. From jumbo cashews prized for their aesthetic appeal to smaller counterparts suitable for various culinary applications, understanding the nuances of size grading is paramount for industry buyers seeking precision in their procurement.

Quality Metrics: Defects and Their Impact on Cashew Grades

Beyond size and color, the quality of cashew nuts is a paramount consideration in the grading process. Industry buyers must acquaint themselves with the intricate quality metrics that influence the categorization of cashews into different grades. Defects such as broken kernels, blemishes, or inconsistencies in shape are meticulously assessed, ensuring that only nuts meeting stringent quality standards make their way to the market. A thorough understanding of these quality metrics empowers industry buyers to make informed procurement decisions, aligning with their quality preferences and market positioning.

Market Dynamics: Aligning Procurement Strategies with Consumer Trends

Cashew nut grades are not only indicative of intrinsic qualities but also play a crucial role in shaping consumer choices. Industry buyers need to be attuned to market dynamics, understanding how different grades cater to diverse consumer preferences. From premium whole kernels favored by discerning snack enthusiasts to broken pieces sought after for culinary applications, the alignment of procurement strategies with consumer trends is essential for success in the cashew industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

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A cashew is classified as a seed and fruit in one. Specifically, a cashew is the seed that grows outside of a cashew apple.

In more detail:

  • The cashew apple is an oval or pear-shaped pseudofruit that grows on the cashew tree. This false fruit is juicy and can be used to make juices, jams, etc.
  • Attached to the bottom of the cashew apple is the true fruit – the cashew seed. This seed is encased in a dense double shell with caustic phenolic resin in between the layers.
  • The seed inside this shell is the edible cashew nut that can be extracted and consumed on its own after processing to remove the shell and resin.

So in botanical terms, the cashew “nut” is actually a seed. But it is different from other nuts because this seed develops outside the fruit, unlike almonds, walnuts etc where the seed is inside the fruit.

Cashews belong to the category of nuts. However, botanically speaking, cashews are actually seeds rather than true nuts.

Here’s a breakdown of how cashews are categorized:

Culinary Category:

  • Cashews are culinarily categorized as nuts.
  • They are used in recipes and eaten like typical tree nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.

Botanical Category:

  • Botanically, cashews are classified as seeds rather than true nuts.
  • This is because the cashew “nut” is the seed of the cashew apple fruit.
  • Other tree nuts have the seed inside the fruit, but cashews grow outside their fruits.

Plant Family Category:

  • Cashews belong to the plant family Anacardiaceae.
  • This family also contains mangos, pistachios, and poison ivy.

Commercial Category:

  • Commercially, cashews are grouped with tree nuts for storage, shipping, and nutrition information.
  • You’ll find cashews in the nuts section at the grocery store right alongside other nuts.

Cashews belong to the class Magnoliopsida. Specifically:

Kingdom: Plantae Division: Magnoliophyta Class: Magnoliopsida Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae Genus: Anacardium Species: Anacardium occidentale

To break this down:

  • Kingdom Plantae consists of all plant life.
  • Division Magnoliophyta are angiosperms, or flowering plants.
  • Class Magnoliopsida consists of dicotyledons, or plants with two seed leaves.
  • Order Sapindales contains plants like maples, lychee, mangos, poison ivy, etc.
  • Family Anacardiaceae specifically includes cashews, mangos, sumac, smoke trees, etc.
  • Genus Anacardium are plants that bear their seeds on the outside.
  • Species Anacardium occidentale is the scientific name for cashew plants.
Important Tags

Cashew nut grades requires a nuanced understanding of size, color, and quality classifications. Industry buyers seeking excellence in their procurement strategies should delve into the intricacies of these grades, recognizing the impact they have on market positioning and consumer choices. As the cashew industry continues to evolve, informed buyers armed with knowledge about cashew nut grades are well-equipped to make strategic decisions that not only meet consumer demands but also contribute to the overall growth and sustainability of this dynamic industry. cashew grades, cashew grade, scorched wholes, sieve, seeds, sw. 


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