Table of Contents


See the separate “Macadamia nuts” chapter.


1. Overview

  • The tree nut industry worldwide is growing on the back of improved lifestyles and a desire to eat more healthily.
  • South Africa has the climate and the ecology to become a recognised producer and value added processor of most nuts. The harvest time in the southern hemisphere is ideally suited too, just before the main global market demand at Christmas.
  • The predominant tree nut crops grown in South Africa are macadamias and pecans. South Africa competes with Australia as the world’s largest exporter of macadamia nuts (see separate chapter).
  • Macadamias and pecan nuts are important crops for the country. They both have high-growth potential while also being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018).


2. Almonds

  • California (USA) is world’s largest producer of almonds. With its ideal growing conditions, including a mild climate, rich soil, and abundant sunshine, this area produces about 80% of the global almond supply, exporting to nearly 90 countries. The website of the Almond Board of California, is a wealth of information regarding almonds. Visit See also the notes on the Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts website.
  • The EU, Australia, China and Turkey are other significant producers of almonds (USDA, 2018).
  • An IDC study posited the idea that SADC countries are ideally positioned to take advantage of the absence of almond producers in the region (Bezuidenhout, 2016), as does ABSA agricultural economist Wessel Lemmer (Lemmer, 2017). Most almonds are imported from the USA. South Africa has hitherto not possessed the processing capacity nor the volume of production to turn this into an industry. Find references for both articles below.

Further reading


3. Brazil nuts

Read about this nut on the Nutrition and You website at


4. Cashew nuts

Cashew trees are indigenous to the coastal dunes of northeastern Brazil. A plant can grow from seed to seed producer within three years.

Advantageous properties of Cashew trees:

  • Produce cashew nuts.
  • The cashew apple juice can be turned to wine and the wine distilled for brandy.
  • They make good shade trees because of having evergreen leaves and a wide-spreading canopy.
  • Sap with insecticidal properties can be tapped from the trunks. It can also be used as a varnish.
  • They can be cut down for firewood and charcoal.

Value-added opportunities:

In addition to the cashew kernel, which constitutes only 20% of the nut, various other opportunities exist:

  • Cashew butter.
  • A juice rich in vitamin C can also be extracted from the cashew apple, a false fruit produced about the nut.
  • Even the poisonous cashew nut shell liquid can be converted into useful products, including epoxies, ship varnishes and friction dust for the car brake linings, meaning the potential for downstream products is extensive.
Source: Cultivating Cashew Nuts Info Pak at  

Further reading

  • African Cashew Alliance
  • On the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries website,, find the Info Pak “Cultivating cashew nuts” (under “Resource centre”).
  • The DAFF-NAMC Trade Probe 69 (May 2017) contains a trade profile of cashew nuts. Find the document at
  • Reuters. 2014, November 5. “Côte d’Ivoire, where money does grow on (cashew) trees”. Voices of Africa. Available at After a decade of civil war and chaos, cashews proved to hold great potential. The Ivory Coast is now the world’s top exporter of cashews.