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  • Australian nuts crack $1bn on global market

    Sep 11th, 2015

    A record crop, high prices and global demand has sent the Australian tree nut industry skyrocketing to a $1.2bn domestic farmgate revenue, and $1bn in exports so far for 2015. “It’s all happened sooner than we would have thought,” says Australian Nut Industry Council Chairman Jolyon Burnett. “We expected to reach $1bn in exports in about 2020, but demand is growing across all markets and prices have responded strongly. China has really taken off for macadamias and walnuts, and Japan, Europe and the Middle East have also proven to be hungry markets for Australia’s world-class almonds as well”, according to Mr Burnett.“On the domestic markets, the growth and demand has been split quite evenly. Almonds continue to sell well but pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts are all selling well across the board too,” he adds. “We’ve been working hard at ANIC to really push the health benefits of nuts, and the flexibility of the product. As a result we’ve seen strong growth in nuts as an ingredient in beauty products such as hand lotions, in baking and nut milks as well as nut butters.”

    A new range of nut butters introduced by Kraft to the Australian market this year contributed to the stunning result. Nuts add value to any product they are included in Mr Burnett says. An example is the market research in macadamias showing their perception as a premium product influences consumers perception of the value of products that contain them. “The premium price perception really seems to flow through to products using macadamias as an ingredient in particular, and I think that’s encouraging for manufacturers.” Even the hard shells of macadamia nuts have found a niche market, as a graffiti removal product, and as organic matter for composting or burning for electricity.

    Investment options still a ‘challenge’ for industry

    The stellar economic results for the industry are certainly attractive to investors, and will ensure new plantings are sufficient to keep up with demand, but there is a caveat when it comes to individual funding needs, Mr Burnett says.

    The only dampener on obtaining investment dollars is that some growing operations for tree nuts fall in the investment ‘dead zone’ of between $5m and $20m, says Mr Burnett. “For investments of up to $5m there’s a well worked path to the bank’s doors, and over $20m sovereign wealth funds will be interested, but often the level of investment needed is not enough for the big boys, and not small enough for the retail banks.”As the results prove the value of nuts as a commodity interest will increase, Mr Burnett says. “Over the next decade we’re forecasting a 60% increase in volume and a 70% increase in value as an industry. The fact that it is lower than the increase over the last decade, where we saw a 200% increase in value, reflects the lag time for new plantings to come into production and the challenge of securing new investment.”ANIC has forecast 4.5 million new tree plantings over the course of the next three years, and almonds are set to be the powerhouse of that growth, with 5,000ha of new plantings. Walnuts, hazelnuts pistachios and chestnuts are the other nuts that will also be expanding. Walnuts by 400ha per year over four years, pistachios by 20,000 new plantings in 2016 alone.