Production to drop by 9%
While initial projections ranged at 60,000 mt for in-shell macadamias with a 3.5% moisture content, AMS cut the figure to 53,160 mt at the end of June and has now issued a new downward estimate over 48,500 mt. Production will, in other words, range 9% lower than last year. Figures for in-shells with 10% moisture have also been slashed from 57,000 mt to 52,000 mt. As AMS highlights producers have been forced to make tough decisions this year with farmgate prices hitting their lowest in more than a decade. Issue is also that yields were lower than expected.
AMS conceded that these atypical factors have made modelling and forecasting more difficult than usual. Harvesting is around 90% complete and has just about finished in Bundaberg, the largest growing region. Completion is also drawing near in the Northers Rivers. AMS will issue the final estimate in December.
Silver lining is that kernel quality is excellent. Rejection levels are lower and more premium grade kernels are available than in recent years. Kernel supplies are, however, more limited as the amounts exported as nuts-in-shell may double to 60% this year, which is impacting kernel availability. Industry analysts also state that nut sizes have decreased and that some suppliers may not be able to fully meet commitments as the crop is smaller than anticipated.
China to become second largest producer after South Africa
Stink bug issues also prompted Macadamia South Africa (SAMAC) to reduce projections for the country to 77,659 mt in July. Quality and shipping timelines are also an issue. Although unattractive price levels caused farmers to hesitate before harvesting, the industry is deemed to be resilient. Kernel sales have, in addition, slowed in Kenya and unsold inventories are an issue. The High Court’s decision to suspend the government’s initiative to lift the export ban for nuts-in-shell also comes as a blow to the industry and quality should be monitored closely. China is on track to become the second largest macadamia producer in the world as official projections stand at 56,000 mt for dried nuts-in-shell. Harvesting is in full swing here and demand remains high.