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The Australian macadamia industry is the world’s largest producer of the only commercially viable native Australian food product. The combination of the macadamia’s unique flavour, texture and heritage is a source of great pride among those in the industry.

The first commercial macadamia processing plant was established in 1954. Now there are more than 850 growers across three states, and 6,000,000 trees producing around 40,000 tonnes per year.

60 per cent of production is exported as kernel to the world market (macadamias are primarily sold as kernel and processed for snack food and as an ingredient in food products).

Farms range from small orchards with 1000 trees to large operations with more than 500,000 trees.

Our most frequently asked questions are listed below. Media representatives requiring more information, or interview/photo opportunities, should contact our Communications Manager (contact details listed on the right).


Some of the Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where is Australia on the global macadamia market?

A: Australia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of macadamia nuts.

We provide approximately 35 per cent of the world supply to more than 40 countries, ahead of South Africa and Hawaii, supplying 27 per cent and 15 per cent of macadamia kernels respectively.

Q: What is the value of the Australian industry – domestic and international?

A: The local macadamia industry is worth:

 

  • $128 million at farm gate
  • $188 million at factory gate, and
  • $319 million at retail.

 

In 2012, 8,300 tonnes of macadamia kernel were sold, 5,300 of which were sent offshore, putting Australian macadamias second to almonds on the list of the country’s top tree nut exports with a value of more than $120 million.

Export of Australia’s native nut is on the rise with production rapidly expanding backed by firm global demand, led by Asia, making home-grown macadamias one of the nation’s top horticulture exports and unrivalled leaders in world trade.

Q:What are the long term prospects for the Australian macadamia industry?

A: Currently macadamias account for less than 3 per cent of the world tree nut market, so with marketing into existing and new markets, there is unlimited potential for Australian macadamias.

The unique flavour, the nutritional benefits and the versatility of the macadamia nut either raw, roasted or in recipes are increasingly being recognised in international markets. Export sales have grown continuously over the last decade with Europe and Japan continuing to grow.

The domestic industry is expanding quickly with major growth taking place in Bundaberg, which is now home to the world’s largest macadamia processing plant. It is currently the second largest macadamia growing area in the country after the Northern Rivers of NSW, and, with its current rate of production, is set to become the largest producing region by 2016.

Overall, there has been a five-fold increase in plantings in the last 20 years and there are now six million macadamia trees in cultivation, a third of which are yet to reach full production.

By 2020, the industry estimates that:

  • more than 22,000 hectares of macadamias will be planted
  • with kernel production greater than 17,000 tonnes, and
  • export value exceeding $180 million.

Q: What are the driving forces behind the industry’s rapid expansion? And who are our biggest customers?

A: The expansion is a direct result of growing interest from existing and new markets. The domestic market remains the most thriving, consuming 35 per cent of local kernels, with the Asia Pacific region now the second largest representing 40 per cent of overall sales. The appeal of Australian macadamias is developing in international markets including Taiwan and Korea, while Japan heads the list as the biggest overseas consumer.

The key driver with the Asia Pacific is their growing interest in healthy foods as well as their propensity to now be more ‘western’ in their eating habits, so snacking is increasing.

This trend is expected to continue, supported by growing awareness of the nut’s versatility and strong health credentials. There is also high demand for good quality snacks and Australia as a producer has an excellent reputation for high quality and food safety.

Q: Where are macadamias grown in Australia and what is the economic impact for the communities in which the industry operates?

A: The best growing conditions for macadamias are within the subtropics. Commercial plantations are found in four major growing regions stretching around 1000km along Australia’s east coast from the mid north coast of New South Wales up to Mackay in Queensland:

New South Wales

  • Northern Rivers (click for profile)
  • Nambucca (click for profile)

Queensland

  • Bundaberg (click for profile)
  • Gympie/Glass House Mountains (click for profile)

Current estimates are that the Australian industry has about 6,000,000 trees varying in age from newly planted to over 40 years old. 98 per cent of these trees are the commercially preferred Macadamia integrifolia species. Of the total trees planted it is estimated that 45 per cent are mature (15 years plus), 30 per cent in the early bearing stage and 25 per cent not yet bearing.

Plantings of Australian macadamias cover approximately 17,000 hectares, either on undulating hillsides, common in NSW, or flatter areas which are more common in the Bundaberg area of Queensland.

The total number of growers across the regions is around 850. The profile of the Australia macadamia grower varies greatly. Many have several thousand trees and operate as small family farms, while in more recent years, significant plantations in the Bundaberg area have been developed with up to one million trees.

While the macadamia industry is a relatively small rural industry in Australia, the economic and social impact in its specific growing regions is significant.

The industry provides approximately $376million of economic value to its local communities, represented by direct and indirect employment, sales of goods and services to the industry and the industry’s direct sales (see individual regional profiles for a breakdown of economic impact per region).

Q: Why is Australia the global leader in macadamia production?

A: There are a number of factors that have combined to position Australia as the world leader in macadamia production. Our professionalism, commitment to best practice and our reputation for high quality food and safety is second to none, and of course Australian macadamias have the advantage of being grown in their natural soil and climate, where they first evolved 60,000 years ago.
As well, we have a strong track record of innovation and adoption, underpinned by arguably the best macadamia research and development program in the world. Macadamias has one of the highest investments in research and development (more than $4million annually) relative to its GVP of any Australian horticultural industry.  Projects have focussed on:

  • mproving soil and orchard floor management
  • disease management in macadamia
  • progressing integrated pest management (entomology) in macadamias
  • regional macadamia variety trials, and
  • optimising kernel processing for shelf life.

We’re passionately committed to improving productivity through environmentally responsible techniques, with more and more growers increasingly looking to organic and alternative solutions in the management of their orchards, including:

  • the use of integrated pest management to control pests and reduce the use of pesticides
  • improving soil health and reducing chemical fertiliser use, and
  • the use of ground covers to reduce soil erosion on farm.

Australian growers use 100 per cent of the nut they harvest with nothing wasted. The shell is used for fuel and the husk is used as organic matter. New uses for orchard by-products are constantly being researched, such as the creation of biochar for carbon capture and storage.

 

Q: Where is the Australian tree nut industry positioned on the Australian horticulture landscape?

A: According to the Australian Nut Industry Council (ANIC), the broader industry, which represents almond, chestnut, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, pistachio and walnut growers, has become the country’s largest horticulture exporter ahead of home-grown citrus, root vegetables and table grapes.

The industry predicts its rapid growth will continue with export forecasts to almost triple to $725 million within seven years. In total, the Australian tree nut industry will reach a gross farm gate value of $500 to $600 million, expected to rise to $1 billion by 2020.

  • Media centre

    All media enquiries and questions
    should be directed to:

    Nyree Epplett
    Communications Manager

    Phone: 0434 261 070
    Email: nyree.epplett@macadamias.org

     

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