The world body’s most recently released study has revealed that while macadamia consumption totals just 1% of all nuts on the market, the infant industry has room for growth, despite pricing volatility in the short to medium term.

Research by the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) shows that between 2012 and 2022 world tree nut production grew at an average annual rate of about 229 221 tons year-on-year.

In 2022, almonds and walnuts totalled 32% and 19% of global production respectively. Cashew nuts were fixed at 17%, pistachios 15% and hazelnuts 11%, while pecans, macadamia, pine and Brazil nuts accounted for the remaining 6%.

Macadamia nuts totalled 1% overall.

The study is produced annually by the INC for its members.

The key challenges impacting nut sales across the world are well documented and include Chinese consumption, production and policy-making influences, and global supply-chain challenges after the outbreak of the coronavirus in 2020, coupled with the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 on input costs, particularly fertilisers and fuel.

In the 2021/22 study, the INC says the most growth recorded was within the macadamia sector, along with the walnut, cashew, almond and pecan crops.

The appetite for macadamia nuts in the world market was valued at US$1.53 billion in 2022 with an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% until 2032. Europe is the place where the fastest uptick in consumption is expected, with a CAGR of 12.1% in the same period, the study says.

Australians are by far and away the biggest consumers of the macadamia nut in the world at 129 grams per person in 2020, with a slight uptick in 2016 to 140 grams per person.

However, shoppers in the United States buy the most imported macadamia nut kernel – at 9 586 tons in 2020. China imported 8 074 tons, and 8 099 tons were imported into France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium combined.

A good majority of the world’s tree nuts land up in Europe and while more and more people are eating them, the study says market saturation is a growing question.

Populations are on the decline and the European Union has introduced strict production stands, which include the elimination of chemicals used by farmers in the production processes. The study warns that producing countries wanting to hold on to share in the EU will have to comply with new farming methodologies to meet the required standard.

In China, macadamia production has grown exponentially as poverty-alleviation programmes in rural areas mature. While the Asian crop is not expected to compete with the quality of the South African nuts, a noticeable drop in NIS exports to that country has not gone unnoticed.