Cashew grading is done for export purposes based on their size, quality and “counts” or number of kernels per pound. The grading system is used to determine the price and intended use of the cashew nuts. Sound kernels are named as “wholes” and broken ones as “splits”. The wholes are again classified as whole white kernels, whole scorched kernels, whole dessert kernels (a) and whole dessert kernels (b). The splits are also further graded into white pieces, scorched pieces, dessert pieces (a) and dessert pieces (b) based on certain physical characters. The wholes are packed in several grades viz., 210, 240, 280, 320, 400, 459 and 500; the popular grade is 320. The specifications for graded kernels are that they should be fully developed, ivory white in colour and should be free from insect damage and black and brown spots. Packing is done in time by Vita pack method (exhausting the air inside the packing tin, pumping in carbon dioxide and sealing).
The main grades are:
- W160: These are the largest and highest quality cashews. They have a better taste and are often used as a snack or for cooking and baking. They are considered to be the best tasting of all cashews.
- W180: cashew grade is known as large cashew which is bit smaller than W180 grade.
- W210: These are slightly larger and of better quality than W240.
- W240: W240 grade is known as large cashew kernels which is bit smaller than W210 grade.
- W320: w320, are the most popular among cashew kernels and highest in terms of availability, worldwide.
- SW: These are cashew nuts that are split in half, used in salted and roasted form.
- WW: These are cashew nuts that are whole and are used in salted and roasted form.
- LP: These are cashew nuts that are lightly salted and roasted.
The grading system may vary by country, company or region. Generally, the bigger the cashew nut, the higher the grade, and the higher the price.