Macadamia industry gathers amid challenging market conditions at AmberMacs Expo

14 February 2023

Stakeholders of the local macadamia industry gathered this month at the second AmberMacs Expo in White River, Mpumalanga, where speakers addressed issues such as how to reduce the cost of production and the adoption of alternative energy sources amid plummeting prices.

“The macadamia industry is struggling, with prices having declined by almost 50% compared with the peak R118/kg of dry-nut-in-shell achieved in 2017. The decline is largely owing to the Chinese market, the biggest consumer of South Africa’s macadamia, being closed because of Covid-19 restrictions,” says AECI Plant Health marketing manager Dr Andre Cilliers.

About 98% of South Africa’s macadamia production is exported, according to Macadamias South Africa (SAMAC). China is the largest export destination for South Africa’s macadamia, but also a growing competitor.

At the annual SAMAC conference last year, chairperson Pierrie Cronjé said 2022 was probably the toughest year the industry had seen in terms of the marketing of macadamia nuts.

But there is no break in the storm for macadamia farmers, especially as the country enters another National State of Disaster owing to its energy crisis, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are also concerns about the impact of the expanding Chinese crop on the local industry.

The Chinese crop is saturating the market with lower-quality nuts, Gauteng nuts and dried fruit exporter Empirestate Trading director Pieter van der Westhuizen said in a Farmer’s Weekly report in October last year.

The traditional method of forward contracting at the start of the year is also under threat as the crop in China increases owing to maturing trees. Consequently, Chinese buyers will wait to see what stock they require after their own crop has been harvested before placing orders.

Van der Westhuizen expected this to have a significant impact on the cash flow of processors and growers, as the days of getting a big cash injection in March or April are over.

The AmberMacs Expo gave industry stakeholders the opportunity to share the knowledge and innovations vital to their survival.

AECI Plant Health, part of #OneAECIForABetterWorld, exhibited at the event, demonstrating how the company could help farmers enhance nature’s potential to ensure the sustainability of their operations, especially in challenging market conditions.

  • Pictured are, from left, Mongameli Nkosi, Gavin Smit, Andre Cilliers, Jacques Swanepoel and Charles Schutte.