An Overview of the South African Macadamia Industry

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 56’550 tons in 2018. The total value of annual production has increased from R32 million in 1996 to approximately R4.2 Billion in 2018.

In 2018 more than 1.9 million trees were planted, and the industry has grown by an estimated 6’200 hectares.

The main growing areas are Levubu and Tzaneen in Limpopo province, Hazyview to Barberton in Mpumalanga, coastal KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. 495 Growers, 21 Handlers, 18 Nurseries and 61 Associate Members are registered with SAMAC. A number of growers are Global GAP and SIZA accredited and most of the cracking facilities are HACCP and/or ISO 9001 accredited.

The industry is export based with more than 97% of annual production shipped to international markets. In 2018, approximately 97 % of NIS was exported to Asia, while the largest market for kernel exports was the USA. Other kernel export markets are Asia, Europe and Middle East.

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 10’000 permanent job opportunities have been created and in peak season over 9’000 seasonal workers. 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.

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 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.

Global contacts and cooperation have been further developed through the participation in the seven and eight 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.