• 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 DALRRD publication A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain (see "Websites & publications" heading).

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.
  • 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

More than 95% of South Africa’s macadamia produce is exported. According to figures received from the South African Revenue Service, the total value of macadamia exports in 2017 was R3 269 599 858 (SAMAC, 2018).

Macadamias are mostly exported to Asia and Southeast Asia, North America and Europe. Find a breakdown on export destinations at www.samac.org.za/industry-statistics-southern-african-macadamia-industry/.

A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain (see “Websites & publications” heading) also looks at macadamia nut exports and imports.

Local business environment

  • Mpumalanga remains the major production region in South Africa, still with the highest growth rate.
  • New plantings in KwaZulu-Natal, mostly along the North Coast, mean that in terms of hectares of macadamias established, KwaZulu-Natal is now the second largest province. Limpopo Province (Levubu and Tzaneen) is also a major producer of macadamias.
  • When the growth by the number of trees sold is taken into consideration, approximately 32 500 ha of macadamias have been established in South Africa. Macadamia production has increased dramatically and the rate of production is expected to increase even more in the near future due to an exponential increase in new plantings annually.
  • 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 customers and supplies fast feedback to farmers of quality.
  • 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.
  • Completion of South Africa’s largest macadamia factory in White River, Mpumalanga, is expected in 2020.
Source: www.samac.org.za/industry-statistics-southern-african-macadamia-industry/ and previous notes on the SAMAC website.


The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands study The Current State of Fruit & Vegetable Agro-Processing in South Africa (February 2019) includes a look at nuts.

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

Macadamias are an important crop for the country, having high-growth-potential while also being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018). The National Development Plan singled out the nut sector as one of the smaller, labour- intensive industries with huge expansion and labour creation potential. The BFAP Baseline 2019 noted that pecans and macadamias were among those industries that have already expanded beyond the targets of the NDP (BFAP, 2019). It almost goes without saying that in terms of growth in gross value of production (2013-2017) and share of total agricultural production value (2013-2017), macadamia nuts are in the top 10 agricultural products (DAFF, 2018).

  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) (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: 012 001 4107 www.samac.org.za


Training, research and services

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

  • Find details of the National Certificate: Macadamia production and de-husking under “Skills Delivery” on the AgriSETA website, www.agriseta.co.za.
  • ARC-Plant 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: 087 286 9298 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 at www.samac.org.za/nurseries.

Find the general tree nut traders on the “Tree nuts” page.

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.



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