Supply chains around the world have been disrupted by the pandemic. When it comes to food, trust in the source, food safety and stable supply is growing in importance for consumers and manufacturers. Consumers are increasingly demanding to know the story behind the products they are buying and expect transparency from food producers and manufacturers.
New research released by Australian Macadamias has revealed 82 percent of consumers say origin is important to them when purchasing macadamia nuts. In China and Taiwan, this was even higher at 89 percent and 95 percent respectively.
90 percent of Australian consumers and more than 50 percent of consumers surveyed across Asia and the US ranked Australia as one of their most appealing origins of macadamias.
Australia has exported around 70 percent of its macadamia crop for the last five years, with this figure climbing as high as 75 percent in 2020, despite the disruptions of COVID. Australian kernel sales continue to improve in key markets, and this is testament to the high quality standing of Australian macadamias and the strong commercial relationships forged.
Today the industry shares the journey of a macadamia nut from its on-farm origins on the Australian east coast, to becoming the hero ingredient in popular milkadamia plant-based milks and creamers and Thank You Nuts snack products.
Australia is the original home of macadamias, which originated in the ancient rainforests on the east coast over 60 million years ago. The industry remains centered here, where the rich volcanic soils and sub-tropical climate form the ideal environment for macadamias to flourish.
Australian Macadamias Market Development Manager Jacqui Price says the industry is thriving and macadamias are now Australia’s 4th largest horticultural export.
“The last few years in particular has seen an influx of new growers,” reveals Price. “It’s injected a youthful energy and an unprecedented appetite for innovation into our industry, with newer growers eager to adopt the latest on-farm technology and promote biodiversity in their orchards.”
Australian growers are deeply committed to continuous learning and the industry attracts around $5 million investment in research and development every year.
“Adoption of new technology and continual improvement of best-practice orchard management is paving the way for further growth to ensure Australia’s macadamia industry remains at the forefront of world production and continues to supply premium product to innovation-focused customers in the global FMCG space,” says Price.
The strength of Australia’s macadamia processers lies at the heart of the industry. Located within major growing regions along the east coast, the freshly harvested nuts don’t have far to travel to complete their transformation from nut-in-shell to cracked and bulk-packed kernel, ready for dispatch to the supply chain.
Australia pioneered the macadamia processing industry, and was the first macadamia producer to implement rigorous quality standards and testing protocols. With safety, freshness and transparency as the cornerstones of their operations, all Australian processors have stringent quality management systems in place and meet high accreditation standards.
Jacqui Price believes this is what underpins the relationships Australian processors have with commercial partners around the world.
“Our processors have robust and long standing customer relationships built on quality, impeccable food safety standards and great customer service,” she says.
“Their commitment to outstanding quality is verified every year by the Australian Government’s National Residue Survey (NRS).”
The NRS tests Australian fresh produce for a range of chemical residues and environmental contaminants. The macadamia industry has participated in the survey since it began in the mid 1990s, achieving 100 percent compliance every year.
“23 consecutive years of perfect scores really highlights the impeccable standards of our growers and processors, and macadamias are actually the only Australian fresh product to have achieved this record.”
Price says the industry’s processing sector is also committed to offering a variety of product formats to help manufacturers innovate with macadamias across a host of categories and applications.
“In addition to whole kernel which suits snacks and chocolate confectionery products, our processors supply a range of other ingredient styles, from halves right down to very small chips, making it commercially viable to include macadamias in everything from ice cream and bakery items to toppings and cereals.”
Once processed, manufacturers including milkadamia in the USA and Thank You Nuts in Taiwan use the premium quality Australian grown macadamia kernel to produce an array of retail products. Macadamias’ versatility and proven ability to elevate a wide variety of products in the minds of consumers make them the perfect production partner, as milkadamia and Thank You Nuts and will attest.
“We take premium Australian macadamia kernel and grind it into a paste that forms the basis of our milks and creamers,” says milkadamia CEO Jim Richards. “We don’t roast our Australian macadamias, we use them in their raw format as this delivers a lovely natural flavour that pairs perfectly with coffee. We want consumers to taste the coffee first and our macadamia formulation ensures the milk works in harmony with the coffee without overpowering it. ”
Milkadamia’s range of plant-based milks and creamers have been a runaway success, particularly in the US market, where consumers have wholeheartedly embraced alternative milks. Richards says Australian origin is preferred by the business and the milkadamia brand is built on their team’s passion for supporting Australian growers who are farming regeneratively – something he believes consumers see real value in.
“Consumers actually get excited by premium products like ours that are relevant to their lives and pertinent to what matters to them,” he says.
Thank You Nuts owner Mr. Hsieh says his team carefully selects the most premium nuts as ingredients in their products to provide consumers with the best experience.
“We choose only Australian grown macadamias as they deliver exceptional quality and delicious taste,” explains Hsieh. “Consumers in Taiwan attach great importance to the origin of ingredients, and that’s why we promote the Australian origin of our macadamias on our official website and in product descriptions and advertising.”
Thank You Nuts products are available in department stores, organic food stores and online, and Hsieh says its range appeals to consumers who care deeply about their health and the quality of the food they eat. As a premium brand, Thank You Nuts are also popular as gifts for family and friends.
“There is no doubt that the most delicious macadamias in the world come from Australia,” says Hsieh. “By roasting them at a low temperature, our macadamias exude a light milky fragrance and wonderful taste that consumers find very appealing.”
With this commendable reputation for reliability, premium quality and safety, from the farm to the finished product, the Australian macadamia industry is ideally placed to continue to supply the world’s leading brands, manufacturers and consumers with exceptional macadamias long into the future.