Overview of the South African Macadamia Industry
THE SOUTH AFRICAN INDUSTRY – Updated 2 June 2017
From fairly humble beginnings in the 1960’s when macadamias were first introduced into the country, the South African macadamia industry has grown into a major world force, competing with Australia in terms of being the largest producer. It is arguably the fastest growing tree crop industry in South Africa with production increasing more than 20-fold in the last 20 years, from 1 211 tons of nut in shell (NIS) in 1991 to an industry capable of producing 46 000 tons in 2015. The total value of annual production has increased from R32 million in 1996 to approximately R 3.2 Billion in 2015. Due to a severe drought period, production decreased with a total production of 38 000 tons NIS produced in 2016, valued at R2.714 Billion.
New macadamia tree plantings have increased the number of trees from about one million in 1996 to more than 8 million in 2016, covering a total area of approximately 28 000 hectares. New plantings ensure that the industry is growing by an estimated 3 900 ha annually.
The main growing areas are Levubu and Tzaneen in Limpopo province, Hazyview to Barberton in Mpumalanga and coastal KwaZulu-Natal. There are an estimated 700 farmers involved in growing macadamia nuts, with more than 650 that are members of SAMAC. A number of growers are GlobalGAP and SIZA accredited and most of the cracking facilities are HACCP and/or ISO 9001 accredited. Quality assurance is given priority throughout the industry, from farm level through the processor and exporter to the customer. Individual batch processing used in all the cracking facilities provides for the kind of attention to detail that not only ensures full traceability of every container of macadamias from the customer back to farm level, but also supplies farmers with fast feedback of quality attributes of each batch processed.
[Go to “SUPPLIERS” for a list of SAMAC affiliated South African macadamia marketing companies to make your purchase of fine quality macadamia nut products]
The industry is export based with more than 95% of annual production shipped 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. Given the large number of young trees yet to come into production, the industry has tremendous growth and development potential. Although most of the workforce in the industry is employed seasonally, for the harvesting and processing from February to August, it is estimated that at least 7 150 permanent job opportunities have been created on macadamia farms and another 600 permanent jobs in cracking facilities. In peak season, the industry presently provides employment for an additional 8 150 workers. A total of 12 500 full-time equivalent workers are estimated to be employed by the macadamia industry in South Africa. 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.
The industry body SAMAC was formed in the early 1970’s by a group of growers seeking to pool their resources in order to address their common problems and issues. SAMAC opened its first permanent office in October 1997 with two staff members. Currently (2016) SAMAC has a membership of more than 500 members, which consists of growers, international members, nurseries, handlers and service providers. SAMAC is a dynamic organisation, funded by a statutory levy and voluntary membership contributions and directed by macadamia industry participants who have the orderly growth and development of the industry at heart. SAMAC initiated contact with other African macadamia producing countries, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe, at an historic “indaba” held in Harare in 1998 and after more than a decade SAMAC still works closely with these industries to promote the global industry.
Global contacts and cooperation has been further developed through the participation in the seven International Macadamia Symposia that have taken place since its inception in 1999, of which three have been hosted in South Africa (1999, 2009 and 2015).
SAMAC is also a member of the INC (The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council) where the industry has the opportunity to interact not only with international macadamia role players, but with various other key role players within the international nut trade.
The South African macadamia industry is proud of its strong private enterprise base and the structures in place for its governance, created, funded and controlled by the growers, processors and marketers who are committed to its successful future.