Going nuts with new $25 million facility

The new $25 million nut-cracking facility at Macadamias Australia is going to provide a boost to the local industry. Pictures: AARON GOODWIN

By Aaron Goodwin

Macadamias Australia has officially opened it’s new $25 million nut-cracking facility in Bundaberg, in an effort to keep up with the growing supply and demands of the macadamia industry.

The $25 million facility has created 93 new ongoing jobs in both the factory and also in the new visitor experience, where the public can purchase and try the range of products.

The new facility will see an additional 9,000 tonnes of nuts annually cracked and processed.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt congratulated the Steinhardt family, (who own Macadamias Australia) on its continued investment in the region.

“This 8600m2 facility includes new specialised macadamia processing machinery for receival, drying, cracking and value-adding and a tourism facility to provide an educational experience for visitors,” Mr Pitt said.

“Bundaberg is the largest macadamia growing region in Australia producing over 20,000 tonnes annually with local production set to increase to 35,000 tonne in the next 10 years based on today’s plantings.

“This project will provide an outlet for over 9,000 tonne of nut annually for cracking and value adding and will enable Macadamia’s Australia to create a range of innovative products for both its domestic and overseas markets.

”The result is outstanding, I’ve been in manufacturing facilities throughout Australia and the world, this is world-class.”

Macadamia’s Australia Director Janelle Gerry said they have been planning this facility for many years, seeing that there was going to be a shortage of cracking facilities in the region.

“The family are looking forward to partnering with like-minded growers to create single origin quality macadamia products for the world,” she said.

”To see our plans come to fruition today we are beyond excited.

”We’ve built it with growth in mind.

”They’re 15 local growers that are partnered in the supply chain with Macadamias Australia.

”There’s plenty of room for more growers to come on board.”

The business has established long term export markets in over 15 countries for bulk kernel and retail products including Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Middle East, Vietnam and Korea.

The value-added range of retail products is now on the shelves in many Asian countries as well as domestically and on-line.

In the tourism space, a focus on research and development will see the business develop new and innovative value-added products in the coming years.

”Also the exciting part of our project is we are very focused on value adding,” Ms Gerry said.

”We want to do more with macadamia nuts, we don’t just want to sell the kernel around the world, we want to value add them further.

”That in turn provides a certainty for growers for pricing into the future.

”Everything is going really well, we are doing different modifications each and everyday to improve the process.

”It is world-class equipment and a world-class factory.”

The facility is operated by the Steinhardt family, who has grown produce in the Bundaberg region for more than 60 years.

The Steinhardt family started out growing peanuts, corn, tobacco, sugar cane and a variety of vegetables.

In 2004 they planted macadamias and have more than 220,000 trees and will harvest around 3,000 tonnes of nut-in-shell each year.

The Australian Government provided $4.68 million towards the $25 million project from the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Jobs and Investment Package (RJIP).

The visitor centre is now open to the public.