KZN targets sustained demand for macadamia nuts

2017-08-17 06:06
PHOTO: suppliedAt a recent information day on macadamia nuts (from left) Green Farms Nut Company’s KZN agricultural technical adviser Butch Aylward, national manager Graeme Whyte, KZN factory manager Ann Baker, CEO Jill Whyte, farmer liasion and procurement officer Frans Grey, and horticulturalist Nico Neethling.

PHOTO: suppliedAt a recent information day on macadamia nuts (from left) Green Farms Nut Company’s KZN agricultural technical adviser Butch Aylward, national manager Graeme Whyte, KZN factory manager Ann Baker, CEO Jill Whyte, farmer liasion and procurement officer Frans Grey, and horticulturalist Nico Neethling.

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EXTRA chairs had to be supplied for over 120 people who converged on Umdloti last week to learn more about the latest farming trend in KZN — macadamia trees.

Most of the guests had only one question for the host company, Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC) — “Will demand and prices remain high in seven years?”

National manager at GFNC Graeme Whyte said demand and prices are likely to increase, but warned that managers of the 28 000 hectares under macadamia trees will have to continue supplying the biggest, cleanest nuts to compete with growers in Australia, China and Kenya.

There are currently about 8 500 ha under macadamia trees in KZN, and projections show this could increase to 10 000 ha by 2018.

Ann Baker, manager of the GFNC processing plant in Southbroom, said the KZN’s coastal regions are the best in the world to grow macadamia nuts, as the crack-out average is 40%, compared to an industry average of 33%.

The Southbroom plant is the first in the world to earn FSSC2200 certification for food safety.

Whyte warned China aims to plant 330 000 ha by 2020, but said quality there, as in Kenya, remains problematic.

He predicted the growing demand for big, pasteurised macadamia nuts will increase prices — already between R80 and R100 per kg — despite the sharp increase in local orchards and bigger harvests in Mpumalana and Limpopo after last year’s drought.

He said the GNFC is confident its marketing mix will ensure continued demand and it is doubling its production capacity to handle 25% of the expected 65 000-ton harvest in 2018.

- Supplied

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