The economic value of macadamia farming in SA

The booming demand for macadamia nuts worldwide is mainly driven by modern health trends, lifestyle factors and an increase in disposable income. Nuts are now considered a core part of a healthy diet and offer a convenient solution to today’s fast-paced life and eating habits. Macadamia nuts, in particular, are a great source of good fats and proteins and contain more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat than any other nut.

South Africa is currently the largest producer of macadamia nuts worldwide and reports from the 2018 World Nut and Dried Fruit Conference signal a steady growth trajectory for the flourishing local macadamia industry, which has an estimated yield of 53 500 tons for the year, worth well over R3.2 billion. Currently, South Africa has more than 7.5 million macadamia trees under cultivation, and with 5 000 hectares added every year, local production is expected to double in the near future.

According to Valley Macadamia chairman, Alan Sutton, the local industry is mainly fuelled by the insatiable consumption of the macadamia kernel and the demand for nuts in the shell. The growing demand is bound to benefit not only local macadamia farmers, processors and exporters, but rural communities and the South African economy at large.

Job creation
Employment across the industry is estimated at 12 500 workers, including seasonal workers for harvesting and processing. In 2017, an estimated 7 750 permanent job opportunities were created on macadamia farms and in cracking facilities. An additional 8 150 jobs were created during peak season, and the growing rate of new plantings will also create hundreds of sustainable jobs.

Skills sharing
Processors like Valley Macadamia are committed to education and knowledge-sharing to uplift farmers, communities and other stakeholders. In addition, 20% of the grower levy imposed by the Southern African Macadamia Growers Association (SAMAC) is used to provide training, workshops and equipment to improve quality, competitiveness and access to global markets.

New products, new markets
Every part of the macadamia crop can be used – from the soft kernel to the hard, outer shell – and given the forecasted doubling of local production, there is a significant opportunity to expand the local macadamia value proposition by turning crops into manufactured export products.

World-class technology
The stabilising political environment and growing global demand for food production could lead to greater investment opportunities. In turn, investments could secure the acquisition of additional world-class processing technology essential for the manufacturing of final export products.

Contact Valley Macadamia for more information on macadamia farming and industry news. To speak to macadamia farming expert, Alan Sutton, about the future of macadamia farming in South Africa, email For more information, visit

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