Macadamia’s are a native tree nut which evolved in Australia more than 60 million years ago
They are suited to rich soils and high rainfall areas in south-east Queensland and northern NSW.
The trees take up to 15 years to reach maturity and grow to heights between 12 and 15 metres. The macadamia flowers form groups of 40-50 flowers in ‘sprays’, or ‘racemes’. Four to 15 ‘nutlets’ from each spray later ripen into nuts.
Flowering occurs in early spring, with the first nuts appearing in early summer and green clusters of nuts can be observed by autumn. The nuts fall to the ground between March and September and are harvested at regular intervals during this period.
The harvested nuts have a fibrous outer husk, which is removed within 24 hours of harvest and processors generally receive the ‘nut-in-shell’. Processing involves drying the nuts to increase shelf life and cracking the nut’s tough outer shell.1
Australia’s macadamia industry is concentrated along a 1,000 kilometre stretch of the east coast from the mid north coast of New South Wales to Mackay in Queensland. The national area planted to macadamia’s has grown by 1,500 ha in the last three years, providing sustainability and further surety of supply.2
The value of the domestic industry has doubled in size from since 2010, reaching $200m in 2015. There are 17,000ha of macadamias planted to in Australia, increasing 1,500 ha in the last three years.
Domestic production of macadamias is expected to be 47,000 tonnes of nut in shell (NIS) in 2015, see figure 1 below.
Global production is expected to reach 164,000 tonnes in 2015. Australia is the world’s largest producer with South Africa, Kenya and the USA (Hawaii) the other major producing nations.3
Over 3,000 tonnes of Australian macadamia kernals are sold domestically in Australia with the USA and Japan being the two largest export markets, each receiving around 1,400 tonnes.
The outlook for the macadamia industry is positive, particularly in Asian markets. For example, Australian Macadamia Society reports that Korea is a growth market, noting the recent signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia.
Health conscious consumers are flocking to tree nuts, with evidence that daily nut consumption can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, and manage cholesterol.4