Macadamias: first crop estimates for South Africa

August 29, 2023 at 10:05 AM , Der AUDITOR
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CAPE TOWN/CANBERRA. First projections for South Africa's 2023 macadamia crop have been released, but pests could still cause yields to be lower. The driving force on the world market is demand from China.

Low producer prices demotivate

In South Africa, initial projections showed that the 2023 macadamia crop could be high at 81,000 mt. This would represent an increase of 5,000 mt over the 2022 crop, however, OLAM experts also state that a heavy infestation of the stinkbug could result in yields being lower than current estimates. OLAM also reports that the low producer prices are severely demotivating farmers and some are even considering abandoning the harvest as the price level is no longer sustainable for them.

In Kenya, too, only 70% of the nuts are expected to be harvested, the experts report. Unsold stocks of shelled macadamia nuts are said to be stored both in Kenya and overseas, so sales have slowed sharply and processors are hardly buying any new goods as they are difficult to resell. Kenya's government has been trying to boost exports of unshelled macadamias since the beginning of the year, but with moderate success so far.

China's demand as a driving force

Australia's crop estimates, meanwhile, have been revised downwards to 60,000 mt, with some market players even assuming that only 50,000 mt of macadamias can be harvested. The quality is very good and the reject rate will probably be low. However, a decline in nut size can be observed, according to OLAM. Australian farmers are also struggling with producer prices, which are lower than they have been for a decade.

The market is currently being stimulated mainly by a significant increase in demand from China, which is currently the main driver of exports from all growing countries. Buying interest for macadamia kernels has also increased in Europe and Asia, but remains weak in the important target market of the USA. Overall, the macadamia industry is facing many challenges, but the favourable prices and the development of new products are increasing the interest of buyers.

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