More Australian macadamia nuts will be destined for China and other parts of Asia as the result of an expanding marketing partnership involving local and South African producers.

From January, long-established tree nut producer and processor Stahmann Farms will start marketing its macadamia output through Green and Gold Macadamias, a partnership formed two years ago between Queensland and African growers.

Green and Gold, already the largest macadamia marketing outfit in the world, will also move its head office from Gympie to Brisbane, absorbing Stahmann’s marketing expertise in the process.

The joint venture marketer body will represent about 17% of the world’s 35,000 ton (kernel) crop, which had an ex-factory value of $500 million last year.

Green and Gold has a marketing office in London and representative in Singapore helping to develop the company’s footprint in Asia where it is increasingly focusing its growth plans.

China has been buying less of Australia’s macadamia crop in recent years because too much wet weather around harvest has dampened yields by about 25% since the highs of 2006, but Green and Gold sales and marketing director Brian Loader said the Far East represented a hungry market for the native Australian nut.

This year’s harvest prospects were also shaping up well thanks to a drier spring flowering period and forecasts of a more typical summer.

“The Chinese are the third biggest macadamia consumers in the world – behind the US and Europe – absorbing about 10 to 12% of the global crop,” he said.

“We see the emerging broader Asian markets and the sub-continent as very significant long term consumers for the crop, especially if we can build on quality consistency and production standards.”

A surge of demand from the Middle East had also been heartening in recent years.

The Green and Gold partnership will see South African family business Green Farms Nut Company, which grows macadamias in the continent’s south-east, and the Suncoast Gold farmer co-operative on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast each supplying about 40% of the crop to be marketed.

Stahmann, which primarily sources its nuts from NSW North Coast growers and processes the crop in at its Toowoomba, Queensland, headquarters, will contribute about 20% to the partnership.

Stahmann Farms marketing general manager Richard Genest will become Australian and Asian sales manager for the group, bringing significant experience to the venture.

Green and Gold’s Mr Loader said the marketer’s expanding economies of scale and expanded supply chain capabilities would perfectly position the business to grow into these expanding markets.

He said Asia’s fast developing middle class was driving much of that region’s new interest in the macadamias and other tree nut crops, but the crop’s attraction was also enhanced by its reputation as a heart healthy product rich in monounsaturated fats that were also beneficial to the skin.

However, despite their rising popularity, macadamias only represent about one percent of the world’s total nut market and therefore had plenty of growth opportunities to develop.

Australians eat more per capita than any other nation, but only rate as the world’s fourth biggest market, just ahead of Japan.

Macadamias are also grown in Hawaii, other parts of Africa, Brazil and China.

Source: The Land Nov 2012

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