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A tonne of surprise for Australian macadamia nut as production exceeds expectations in 2021

Updated Dec 22, 2021
Australia’s macadamia output has brought a lot of optimism to nut growers in 2021, despite adverse weather conditions that had affected the nut production at the beginning of the season. The final figures from the Australian Macadamia Handlers Association (AMHA) show that macadamia harvest in the country totaled a record 51,500 tonnes in-shell (3.5% moisture content), demonstrating a 10% rise compared to 2020. The increase in production reflects the extension of the macadamia acreage in a response to high profitability and firm global demand for the nut. Despite COVID-related limitations, Australia’s domestic and international sales have remained strong in 2021.

As the macadamia growing season nears its end in Australia, the industry revealed the final production figures, which were good news to the local growers. AMHA, the main industry body, reported that the macadamia output in the country was 51,500 tonnes in 2021, 10% more than last year. However, at the beginning of the year, local growers in the biggest macadamia growing region, New South Wales, faced unprecedently heavy rains in March-April and caused first harvest delays and resulted in a crop loss. Therefore, the country’s domestic output was revised down to 48,500 tonnes in summer 2021 versus 50.770 tonnes at the beginning of the year. As the season was building up, good news came from other growing regions, especially Queensland, as the good weather fostered higher crop yields. This has offset previous losses in New South Wales.

Source: Tridge 

The increase in macadamia production in Australia is attributed to a constantly increasing acreage under macadamia trees in the country in the last five years amid firm international demand. The 2021 cultivation area under macadamia in Australia is estimated at 36,000 hectares, 9% more than last year. At the same time, the number of bearing trees also increases at a high pace, adding to larger yields. The bearing macadamia nut trees occupy 28,000 hectares in 2021, 12% more compared to 2020. For the next 4 years, the industry has a big plan to expand further. According to AMHA, local growers plan to expand the macadamia planting area in Australia to 48,000 hectares by 2025. Queensland’s planting is growing at the highest pace. This is also the area that has the biggest number of young-bearing trees, which will be gradually adding a large portion to local production.

Source: Australian Macadamia Society

Exports of macadamia: in-shell up, kernel down

Australian macadamia exports have been showing mixed trends in 2021. The shipments of whole kernels decreased in the first ten months of 2021, 14% less year on year, to 7,959 tonnes. On the contrary, the export volume of in-shelled macadamias grew by 18% in January-October 2021 to 16,784 tonnes. Such export swings are attributed to a few factors: the demand in the main consuming countries, COVID restrictions and its influence on macadamia consumption, as well as price competitiveness with the other major exporting countries: South Africa and Kenya. 

Source: UN Comtrade

The reduction in Australia’s macadamia kernel exports is connected to lower buying from the top buyer, China. The data from UN Comtrade show that from January to October 2021, China imported 2,789 tonnes of shelled nuts, 35% less year on year. However, it does not mean that the demand for this valuable nut is decreasing in the biggest Asian country. Chinese importers have switched again to purchasing in-shelled macadamia from Australia. In the first 10 months of 2021, China imported more than 13,335 tonnes of in-shell macadamia from Australia, representing a 20% rise year on year. As the local economy was gradually recovering from numerous lockdowns amid COVID in 2020, more enterprises, including nut processing plants, resumed their operation. In addition, China has been ramping up on domestic production of macadamia kernels. Domestic macadamia kernel output has risen to 9,600 tonnes in 2021, 9% more than in 2020.

Source: UN Comtrade

The losses in Australia’s kernel exports to China were partially offset by boosting shipments to Japan, South Korea, and the USA. South Korea has shown the biggest increase in the mentioned commodity. As the latest trade data show, from January to October 2021 the country has doubled purchases of macadamia kernels from Australia year on year to 1,000 tonnes (530 tonnes in 2020). As processors and retailers are trying to incorporate macadamia nuts into different meals and desserts, the domestic demand for nut imports increases.

The US has also strengthened its position as the fourth-largest buyer of Australian macadamia, with total imports standing at 745 MT from January to October 2021, up 14% year on year. This season’s Hawaiian macadamia crop decreased by 4% compared to last season, which caused imports to increase. 


Australian Macadamia Society. December 2021 market report

Australian Macadamia Society. September 2021 market report 
AMS USDA. Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: September 2021 

FAS USDA. China: Tree Nuts Annual 2020

International Nut and Dried Fruit. Global Statistical Review, Macadamias 

FAS USDA. China: Tree Nuts Annual 2021   

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