By Angela Norval
As the Bundaberg region continues to develop a reputation as being a strong front runner in the paddock to the plate idea, one crop that continues to stand out is macadamias.
Macadamias are well-loved throughout the world not only for their delicious taste and impressive health benefits but also their versatility, being used not only in restaurants but also in products including ice cream and chocolate to add that extra touch of luxury.
While it might seem that the macadamia industry locally has taken off overnight, it has actually been a process of nurturing and development by local farmers starting as early as 1995 with Hinkler Park Plantation.
The Bundaberg region has an ideal climate for macadamia growth, with sunny days regularly and a temperate climate combined with good soil, flat land and solid irrigation schemes.
While it might take up to five years for trees to yield a marketable crop, from here they are more durable and require less maintenance than small crops.
With sustainability key with all macadamia growth, growers use organic matter at the base of trees which has been beneficial to their growth, only using sprays where necessary, preferring to send scouts to look over the trees and see individual trees that might be affected by pests.
Growers also abide by the clear rules necessary as part of the reef catchment and minimise irrigation wherever necessary, with clear guidance from industry leader The Marquis Group.
Bringing its range of entities under the one banner in February last year, The Marquis Group is showing clear leadership and working hard with growers to take the local macadamia industry to the world.
Marquis CEO Larry McHugh said as the macadamia industry leader, they took very seriously their responsibility to manage the rapid growth of macadamias with innovative, sustainable processes that guarantee the highest quality; with Marquis’ environmentally friendly factories even using state-of-the-art facilities for drying, cracking and sorting.
“The Marquis Group is the world’s largest macadamia grower, processor and marketer, providing superior quality macadamias to food manufacturing, wholesale and retail customers spanning more than 45 countries across five continents,” he said.
“The Marquis Group is 100 per cent grower-owned, processing 21,000 tonnes per annum through Marquis Macadamias in Australia and 11,000 tonnes per annum through Global Macadamias in South Africa, providing a diversity to our supply chain.”
The Marquis factory in Bundaberg that was built in 2011 continues to fulfil a processing capacity of 12,000 tonnes, with expansion plans being developed to transform this site into a 30,000 tonne capacity facility.
Marquis Macadamias Bundaberg can receive more than 1000 tonnes per week with a nut-in-shell storage and drying capacity of 3000 tonnes, all of which is fitted with energy-efficient drying systems.
“Thankfully based on the year-round reliability of macadamias we were able to keep up the necessary supply for our retail market throughout the year which was a good result for our growers,” Mr McHugh said.
“We found that our market in supermarkets such as Woolworths and Costco grew as macadamias were an ideal snack food while people were isolated in their homes, although the amount of nuts used in restaurant trade was lower.
“We were happy to see for our growers that they received the highest payment pricing in 2020 we have seen in Australia for many years.
“In Bundaberg this is a reflection of our growers continued dedication because we are proud to see considerably more farmers planting macadamias and working together with existing farmers to develop a quality product and sharing interesting new ideas of further developing growth and exportation.
“American and China are currently the countries that we are exporting the most product to and in the future with the ability to provide a greater supply of product we are wanting to expand further into countries that haven’t generally eaten macadamias in the past such as India and our Bundaberg growers and processing facility factor an important part of that future growth.”