• Macadamia trees have similar soil and climatic requirements to avocado trees and are a suitable replacement crop for avocados. Macadamias originated in subtropical eastern Australia, Indonesia and New Caledonia.
  • Macadamia tree takes five to twelve years to produce nuts and a good tree can produce nuts for 40 years. The trees require a hot subtropical climate without much humidity. Macadamias are now widely used in the confectionery, baking, ice cream and snack food industries.
  • Macadamia oil’s rich, cushiony skin feel and high oxidative stability make it especially suitable for heavy creams and sun care formulations. Medical research has shown that the consumption of macadamias may significantly lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Macadamia nuts have a sweet taste and are a super source of energy. They also contain large amounts of vitamin A and iron, as well as zinc and calcium.
  • Raw macadamias have been awarded the South African heart mark as an approved part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation healthy eating plan. They can be eaten raw or roasted.

Source: the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) website, www.samac.org.za and the DAFF publication A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain (see heading 7).

International business environment

  • South Africa competes with Australia as the largest producer of macadamia nuts.
  • The Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) works closely with other African macadamia producing countries like Kenya and Malawi, also major macadamia producers, and Zimbabwe. Macadamia nuts are also grown in Brazil, United States of America (especially Hawaii), Israel, China, Swaziland, New Zealand, Colombia and Guatemala.
  • The forecast for 2018 is estimated at 211 101 metric tons worldwide – the highest ever global supply (NIC, 2018).
  • SAMAC is a member of the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC). Visit www.nutfruit.org.

Other websites of relevance:

South Africa: imports and exports

A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain (see heading 7) takes a close look at macadamia nut exports and imports.

The two major export markets are North America and the Far East, especially China … Other export destinations are Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South America. The Middle East and South American nations such as Brazil are good markets for growth

Source: ABSA Agricultural Outlook 2017, page 57

Local business environment

  • South Africa competes with Australia as the largest producer of macadamia nuts.
  • South Africa’s production has increased from 1 211 tons of nut in shell (NIS) in 1991 to being capable of 46 000 tons in 2015.
  • The severe drought reduced production to 38 000 tons NIS in 2016. A crop of 54 000 tons is expected in 2018.
  • There were about 8 million macadamia trees in 2016, covering an area of about 28 000 ha. New plantings mean about 3 900 ha are added to this area every year.
  • Macadamias are grown mainly in Limpopo Province (Levubu and Tzaneen), Mpumalanga (Hazyview to Barberton), and coastal KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Some 700 farmers grow macadamia nuts. Several of these are GlobalGAP and SIZA accredited and most cracking facilities are HACCP and/or ISO 9001 accredited. This ensures full traceability for cutomers and supplies fast feedback to farmers of quality.
  • The industry is export based. More than 95% of annual production goes to international markets. Approximately 50% of the South African crop is exported as NIS to Asia, and the remainder of the crop is processed to kernel. The USA and Canada is the largest market for kernel exports. Other markets include Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
  • Some 12 500 full-time workers are employed in the macadamia industry, 7 150 of these on macadamia farms. Most employment is seasonal (temporary) for when harvesting and processing happens (February to August).
  • Since production is expected to continue to increase due to the rate at which new plantings are being established, employment creation is expected to continue to grow at a similar pace.
  • Phase 1 of South Africa’s largest macadamia factory will be opened in White River, Mpumalanga, later in 2018, with completion expected in 2020.

Source: www.samac.org.za/south-african-industry-updated-2-june-2017/

For the newcomer

  • Find the grower notes on the SAMAC website. These look at soil and climatic requirements, temperature, altitude, rainfall, wind, cultivars, planting distances and densities, and fertilizing. Readers are invited to contact SAMAC for more detailed information.
  • Various grower guides are available under the “Resource centre” option at www.daff.gov.za. Examples include “Nuts: Cultivating macadamias”.

National strategy and government contact

  • Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) (i) Directorate Marketing Tel: 012 319 8455 (ii) Directorate International Trade Tel: 012 319 8452
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) www.namc.co.za A statutory levy exists for macadamia growers
  • Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) Tel: 021 930 1134 www.ppecb.com

Role players


Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) Tel: 015 307 3677 / 306 6240 www.samac.org.za SAMAC is one of the subtropical grower associations which together make up the SA Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop). Subtrop field officers offer technical expertise to growers of macadamias. Find details in the “Subtropical fruit” chapter.

  • SAMAC convenes the Handlers’ Forum which includes people involved throughout the value chain. This forum addresses matters of common interest, helps in compiling crop estimates and other statistics, and enables better marketing decisions.

Training, research and services

SAMAC members have access to a research library on its website. See www.samac.org.za/research-library/

  • ARC-Plat Protection Research Ian Millar, MillarI [at] arc.agric.za, is a macadamia pest expert
  • ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops (TSC) Tel: 013 753 7000 www.arc.agric.za
  • Burgers Hall Research Station Tel: 013 737 8778
  • Lowveld College of Agriculture Tel: 013 753 3064
  • NOSA Agricultural Services Tel: 033 345 8990/9238 www.nosaagri.co.za
  • South African Grain Laboratory (SAGL) Tel: 012 807 4019 www.sagl.co.za
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Horticultural Science Tel: 021 808 4900 http://academic.sun.ac.za/horticulture/
  • University of the Free State (i) Department of Plant Sciences Tel: 051 401 2818 plantsciences [at] ufs.ac.za (ii) Department of Zoology and Entomology Tel: 051 401 2427 vanasjg [at] ufs.ac.za

There needs to be a massive emphasis on researching the health aspects of the nuts as the nut is rich in omega-7. Intensive consumer research also needs to be conducted on consumer preferences in the ingredients markets. The latter have a great deal of market-expanding potential which has not been exploited yet.
Source: ABSA Agricultural Outlook 2017, page 58


Find the list of SAMAC affiliated nurseries and the nursery checklist on www.samac.org.za.

Find the general tree nut traders in the “Tree nuts” chapter.

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier in this chapter.

Some articles

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