Insight – US grants new access for Australian roasted macadamia nuts

17 January 2023

Australia can now export roasted macadamia nuts – in their shell or husk – to the United States.

The new market access comes after Australia provided scientific evidence that the roasting process removed phytosanitary pest risks. The US Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service subsequently updated its import requirements.

Implications for Australian agricultural exporters

Roasted macadamias represent a small portion of Australia’s macadamia exports.

The market access gives exporters an opportunity to diversify their export profile by value-adding or producing specialty products.

Overview of the Australian macadamia nut industry

From small beginnings, macadamia nuts have grown to be Australia’s third most valuable horticulture export. The value of macadamia nut exports increased from $116 million in 2012–13 to $318 million in 2021–22 (+285%) (see Figure 1).

Exports have increased to most key markets, particularly China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the US. The average export unit value increased from $7.23/kg in 2012–13 to $12.44/kg in 2021–22. This is down from a high of $14.39/kg in 2018–19. International competition and reduced consumer spending are the main drivers behind reduced prices.

Figure 1: Australian macadamia nut exports by country and average unit export value (RHS) 2012–13 to 2021–22

Figure 1 Australian macadamia nut exports by country and average unit export value (RHS) 2012–13 to 2021–22

Strong international demand has led to increased macadamia tree plantings in Australia. The total number of commercial macadamia trees has increased from around 4.9 million in 2010–11 to almost 8.0 million in 2020–21 (+62%). Since 2017–18, the number of new plantings (non-bearing trees) has increased sharply (Figure 2). Most non-bearing trees (82%) are in Queensland. However, NSW has seen an uptick in plantings.

2022 was a challenging year for macadamia growers. This included flooding on the NSW North Coast and Southeast Queensland. Despite recent challenges, increased new plantings indicate farmers are optimistic about the industry’s long-term future.

Figure 2: Number of non-bearing trees (i.e. new plantings)

Figure 2 Number of non-bearing trees

Australia exports around 79% of its macadamia crop (HIA 2022). In the coming years, production is likely to rise faster than domestic consumption based on current trends. This means access to international markets is vital for the sector.

Resources

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services has information about the US’s import conditions.

Austrade has more information about market opportunities in the US.

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, is available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

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