Cashew nut processors in Ivory Coast have asked for government aid and protection from competition coming from deeper-pocketed Asian exporters that they say are driving them towards bankruptcy. The Ivory Coast Cashew Industry Group (GTCI), which represents 15 cashew processors, said in a letter to the sector regulator on June 23 the companies have only purchased around 37,000 tons this season, or around 15% of their capacity. It attributed this to Asian exporters’ ability to offer higher prices to farmers because of their scale, lower cost of production and access to state aid. It did not name specific companies. Asian exporters, many in Vietnam and India, export about 80% of Ivory Coast’s roughly 800,000 tons of annual cashew output. The multinationals “have a virtual monopoly on purchases and exports of raw cashew nuts, leaving a small portion to local actors who are squeezed out of the supply chain,” the letter said, warning that several companies face bankruptcy. The companies, which have an annual processing capacity of around 250,000 tons and employ 2,300 people, asked the government to give them exclusive rights to purchase the first two weeks of the season’s harvest in order to access the best quality raw nuts.