Macadamias: The Superfood that’s Good for You and Your Portfolio

Jun 5, 2018 | Buyers, Nuts and spices, Suppliers |

The macadamia nut industry may be young but it’s developing at a rapid pace because of growing global market demand. Deemed as a “superfood”, macadamias are not only good for human health, but for your investment portfolios too.

Globally macadamia supply levels represent 1.2% of the overall tree nut volume that is marketed every year and this has grown by 46% over the past 10 years. South Africa, Australia and Kenya lead global production by making up almost 70% of global supply. Low supply does make it difficult to develop new products, but new varieties are being discovered and commercialised, and plant husbandry is also constantly being developed.

In South Africa, macadamias are one of the fastest-growing agricultural crops, with more than 3,500ha of new plantings established annually over the past two seasons. They export 95% of its macadamia crop mainly to the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia. According to South African Revenue Service, the total value of macadamia exports for2017 totalled R3.3bn. Further investment could lead to a 300% increase in global supply within the next decade, according to a recent report from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.

China, one of the major importers of the superfood, is set to become a potential competitor as they have invested in planting too and are expected to take centre stage as a producer in the future. But South Africa’s subtropical climate offers a competitive advantage in comparison to China’s colder winter climate and more rugged terrain.

Macadamia Nut Facts


  • Macadamias are a snack nut and are sold as kernel and in-shell products.
  • The kernel market is mainly whole and half nuts, which are widely used in luxury blends and trail mixes.
  • As the most expensive tree nut with the least accessibility, they are also a key product in the ingredients market, used to upsell other products.
  • Roasted in-shell macadamias are popular in China and this market has been growing strongly over the past decade, with China importing up to 40% of South Africa’s total production, according to China’s National Industry Association.
  • As a “superfood“, macadamias are high in fat and energy. Up to 86% of the fat is monounsaturated (the heart-healthy kind of fat) which helps lower cholesterol and decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also one of the only food sources of palmitoleic acid (a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that may speed up fat metabolism, thus reducing the body’s ability to store fat).
  • Fast becoming a favourite among top chefs around the world, Macadamia nut oil is not only healthier than olive and canola oil, but it has a higher smoke point meaning you can cook it at higher temperature without breaking down or losing flavour.
  • The nuts’ flavonoids (the same compounds that give red wine its healthful claim to fame) help lower blood pressure and protect against some forms of cancer.
  • They are 100% cholesterol free, a source of vitamin A, iron, protein (2g per serving), thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. And they also contain small amounts of selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
  • The weighted average gross price for macadamia kernel in 2017 was $17.36/kg and the early 2018 crop is selling at a small premium to this price.
  • The in-shell market prices are $6/kg and higher.