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Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts is an important crop in South Africa. It is an important earner of foreign revenue, has high growth potential while also being labour intensive.


  • Macadamia trees have similar soil and climatic requirements to avocado trees and are a suitable replacement crop for avocados. Macadamias originated in subtropical eastern Australia, Indonesia and New Caledonia.
  • Macadamia tree takes five to twelve years to produce nuts and a good tree can produce nuts for 40 years. The trees require a hot subtropical climate without much humidity. Macadamias are now widely used in the confectionery, baking, ice cream and snack food industries.
  • Macadamia oil’s rich, cushiony skin feel and high oxidative stability make it especially suitable for heavy creams and sun care formulations. Medical research has shown that the consumption of macadamias may significantly lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Macadamia nuts have a sweet taste and are a super source of energy. They also contain large amounts of vitamin A and iron, as well as zinc and calcium.
  • Raw macadamias have been awarded the South African heart mark as an approved part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation healthy eating plan. They can be eaten raw or roasted.
Source: the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) website, and the DALRRD publication A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain (see "Websites & publications" heading).

International business environment

  • Almonds at 31% lead the global tree nut industry. Macadamias make up only 1% (SAMAC, 2023) (see the “Tree nut” page for more).
  • South Africa, Kenya and Australia are the largest producers of macadamia nuts.
  • The World Macadamia Organisation (WMO) was formed in 2021. See
  • The Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) works closely with other African macadamia producing countries like Kenya and Malawi, also major macadamia producers, and Zimbabwe. Macadamia nuts are also grown in Brazil, United States of America (especially Hawaii), Israel, China, Swaziland, New Zealand, Colombia and Guatemala.

Further reference:


South Africa: imports and exports

There is an export standard on all inshell macadamia nuts, which means every consignment is inspected by the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB). Download the standard at

According to figures received from the South African Revenue Service, the total value of macadamia exports in 2022 was R4.6 billion. A breakdown of exports is included among the information at

Local business environment

  • Mpumalanga (41,9%), KwaZulu-Natal (31,5%) and Limpopo (18,8%) have the most hectares planted (SAMAC, 2023).
  • Approximately 65 516 ha of macadamias have been established in South Africa. Macadamia production has increased dramatically and the rate of production is expected to increase even more in the near future due to an exponential increase in new plantings annually.
  • Annual production increased from 68 840 tonnes in 2022 to 77 534 tonnes in 2023. The export value increased to approximately R4.6 Billion in 2022.
  • Several farms are GlobalGAP and SIZA accredited and most cracking facilities are HACCP and/or ISO 9001 accredited. This ensures full traceability for customers and supplies fast feedback to farmers of quality.
  • Information on cultivars, kernel recovery, historical macadamia production figures and more can be found at
Source: and previous notes on the SAMAC website.

For the newcomer

  • Readers are invited to contact SAMAC for detailed grower information on soil and climatic requirements, temperature, altitude, rainfall, wind, cultivars, planting distances and densities, and fertilising.
  • Various grower guides are available at Examples include “Nuts: Cultivating macadamias”.

National strategy and government contact

Macadamias are an important crop for the country, having high-growth-potential while also being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018). The National Development Plan singled out the nut sector as one of the smaller, labour- intensive industries with huge expansion and labour creation potential. The BFAP Baseline noted a few years ago that pecans and macadamias were among those industries that had already expanded beyond the targets of the NDP (BFAP, 2019).

  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) (i) Directorate Marketing (ii) Directorate International Trade
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) A statutory levy exists for macadamia growers
  • Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB)

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.

  • The Macadamia SA magazine
  • On the website of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), find the grower guidelines (Info Pak) “Cultivating Macadamias”. See also the Step-by-step export manual for exporters of South African processed fruits, vegetables and nuts compiled by the Directorate International Trade. The Directorate Marketing pages used to include an annual publication, A Profile of the South African Macadamia Nut Market Value Chain. This has not appeared since 2019, unfortunately.
  • From the ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops order the following: (i) Cultivation of Macadamia (ii) Macadamia pests / Makadamiaplae (Eng & Afr comb.) (iii) Macadamia scouting. Call 013 753 7081.
  • Macadamia nuts are dealt with in the publication “Fruit and nut production in KZN”, which can be downloaded at
  • Find the notes on macadamias on the Precision Irrigation Academy website,
  • The AgriSETA Assessment Guide Primary Agriculture “Monitor the establishment of a crop” includes orchard trees. Another relevant learner guides include “Harvesting agricultural crops”.

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