- 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
- Almonds at 31% lead the global tree nut industry. Macadamias make up only 1% (SAMAC, 2021) (see the “Tree nut” page for more).
- South Africa, Kenya and Australia are the largest producers of macadamia nuts.
- The World Macadamia Organisation (WMO) was formed in 2021. See www.worldmacadamia.com.
- 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.
- International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) www.nutfruit.org.
- International Tree Nut Council (Nutrition Research and Education Foundation) – www.nuthealth.org
- Australian Macadamias, www.australian-macadamias.org
- The Northern Nut Growers Association (North American) website is http://nutgrowing.org
- The Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association – www.hawaiimacnut.org
South Africa: imports and exports
There is an export standard on all inshell macadamia nuts, which means every consignment is inspected by the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB). Download the standard at www.samac.org.za/standards/.
More than 98% 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 2020 was R4.8 billion. A breakdown of exports is included among the information at www.samac.org.za/industry-statistics.
Local business environment
- Mpumalanga (44%), KwaZulu-Natal (28%) and Limpopo (20%) are the major production regions in South Africa.
- When the growth by the number of trees sold is taken into consideration, approximately 50 133 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.
- Annual production has increased from 1 211 tonnes in 1991 to 54 174 tonnes in 2021. The export value has increased from R32 million in 1996 to approximately R4.8 Billion in 2020.
- 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.
- Employment has been placed at some 13 857 full-time workers in the macadamia industry, 12 684 of these on macadamia farms. An additional 13 647 seasonal (temporary) workers help when harvesting and processing happens (February to August).
- Information on cultivars, kernel recovery, historical macadamia production figures and more can be found at www.samac.org.za/industry-statistics.
Source: www.samac.org.za/industry-statistics/ and previous notes on the SAMAC website.
For the newcomer
- Readers are invited to contact SAMAC for detailed grower information on soil and climatic requirements, temperature, altitude, rainfall, wind, cultivars, planting distances and densities, and fertilising.
- Various grower guides are available under the “Resource centre” option at www.dalrrd.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).
- 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
Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) Tel: 012 001 4107 www.samac.org.za
Training, research and services
Information on macadamia research can be read at www.samac.org.za/research-and-development.
- 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
- 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 (ii) Department of Zoology and Entomology Tel: 051 401 2427
Find the list of SAMAC affiliated nurseries at www.samac.org.za/nurseries.
- Afrifresh Tel: 021 763 7600
- Agristar Processing Tel: 087 351 5186 www.agristargroup.co.za
- AP Vos & Seuns Tel: 013 737 8467
- Avoridge Macridge Tel: 071 690 1999 www.macridge.co.za
- Coastal Macadamias Tel: 039 314 8000 – part of Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC)
- East Cape Macadamia (ECM) Tel: 043 727 1113 http://ecmacadamia.co.za
- Eastern Produce SA Tel: 015 307 3120 http://easternproducesa.co.za
- Emvest Nuts Tel: 013 751 2326 www.emvest.com
- Global Macadamias https://globalmacadamias.co.za “The world’s largest macadamia processing plant in Alkmaar, Mpumalanga”
- Golden Macadamias Tel: 013 733 5034 www.goldenmacadamias.com
- Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC) Tel: 013 751 1686 https://gfnc.co.za
- Ivory Macadamias Tel: 013 710 0165 www.ivorymacs.co.za
- J6 Manufacturing Tel: 013 751 3601 macadamia nut dehusking tables/machines
- Khuvuka Max Tel: 082 829 8380 www.khuvuka.co.za
- Mac-Eden Tel: 039 311 2570 www.macedenestate.com
- Maclands Estate – see Eastern Produce SA
- Marquis Macadamias Africa Tel: 087 655 0777 https://marquis.com
- Mayo Macs Macadamias Tel: 013 733 4600 http://mayomacs.co.za
- Maximacs www.maximacs.com
- Ncera Macadamia Farming Project Tel: 081 320 3482 http://nceramacadamia.co.za
- Nutpro Tel: 083 449 1734
- Plan-A-Head Tel: 033 342 7888 www.planahead.co.za Macadamia management software
- PK Pecans Tel: 011 854 9451 / 084 654 2545 pkpecans [at] gmail.com
- Royal Macadamias Tel: 015 151 0077 www.royalmacadamia.co.za
- SAD Lowveld Nuts Tel: 013 751 2326
- Tzamac Tel: 015 307 6607 www.tzamac.co.za
- Valley Macadamias Tel: 013 737 8013 http://valleymacs.co.za
- Zetmac – see Eastern Produce
Find the general tree nut traders on the “Tree nuts” page.
Websites and publications
Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.
- On the website of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), www.dalrrd.gov.za, under “Resource centre”, find the grower guidelines (Info Pak) “Cultivating Macadamias”. See also the Step-by-step export manual for exporters of South African processed fruits, vegetables and nuts compiled by the Directorate International Trade. The Directorate Marketing pages used to include an annual publication, A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain. This has not appeared since 2019, unfortunately.
- From the ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops order the following: (i) Cultivation of Macadamia (ii) Macadamia pests / Makadamiaplae (Eng & Afr comb.) (iii) Macadamia scouting. Call 013 753 7081.
- Macadamia nuts are dealt with in the publication “Fruit and nut production in KZN”, which can be downloaded at www.kzndard.gov.za/resource-centre
- The AgriSETA Assessment Guide Primary Agriculture “Monitor the establishment of a crop” includes orchard trees. Another relevant learner guides include “Harvesting agricultural crops”.
- The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands study The Current State of Fruit & Vegetable Agro-Processing in South Africa (February 2019) included a look at nuts.
- Read the blog “Macadamias vital to development in emerging market” on AgribookDigital.
- Botha L. 2021, September 23. “Macadamias: switching to machine harvesting”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/fruit-nuts/macadamias-switching-to-machine-harvesting/
- Reporter. 2021, September 16. “Global launch for World Macadamia Organisation”. FreshPlaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9356038/global-launch-for-world-macadamia-organisation/
- Botha L. 2020, September 12. “Macadamia prices hold firm amid smaller crop”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/macadamia-prices-hold-firm-amid-smaller-crop/
- Botha L. 2020, August 8. “Ginger: a challenging crop, but well worth the effort”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/field-crops/ginger-a-challenging-crop-but-well-worth-the-effort Since both ginger and macadamias demand the same climate, and macadamia trees take five years before they are in production, the rows between the trees offer an ideal space during this period to plant ginger.
- Botha L. 2020, May 8. “Latest technology improves macadamia quality output”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/read-the-8-may-digital-farmers-weekly-magazine-free/
- Botha L. 2020, March 16. “Latest research: Macadamias need less water than you think!” Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/fruit-nuts/latest-research-macadamias-need-less-water-than-you-think/
- Botha L. 2019, June 13. “Macadamias take Hazyview vegetable farmer to the next level”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/field-crops/macadamias-take-hazyview-vegetable-farmer-to-the-next-level/
- Bulbulia, T. 2019, May 17. “Company uses macadamia nut shells to purify water”. Engineering News. Available at www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/company-uses-macadamia-nut-shells-to-purify-water-2019-05-17
- Masiwa, D. 2019, April 15. “Pioneering nut farmer is breaking barriers for women”. Food for Mzansi. Available at www.foodformzansi.co.za/inspiration-pioneering-nut-farmer-is-breaking-barriers-for-women/
- Reporter. 2018, November 13. “China set to produce 63% of global macadamia crop by 2025”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/742/184221.html
- Reporter. 2018, May 18. “International success for E Cape farm”. SANews. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/features-south-africa/international-success-e-cape-farm
- Reporter. 2018, April 12. “China’s appetite for macadamias fuel SA industry”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/358/175853.html
- Hollins, G. 2017, February 1. “Macadamia partnership turns communities into business owners”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/macadamia-partnership-turns-communities-business-owners/
Share this article