She adds that major plantings are planned for the Tairawhiti, East Coast, Bay of Plenty/Thames, Waikato and South Auckland areas, which have have exceeded current supplies with plant orders fully booked to 2020.
“To meet this demand Torere Macadamias scaled up nursery production from 15,000 to 50,000 plants per annum, by partnering with Tairawhiti Eastland Institute of Technology (EIT) Horticultural Unit to supply 20,000 trees per annum,” Ms Hayes said. “The partnership includes education and training for students and Orchard Managers to ensure industry growth is supported from planting through to production.”
The first stage includes a partnership between Torere Macadamias and EIT to expand and optimise nursery operations with systems to improve efficiencies and increase plant quality and production. The partnership includes developing NZ Qualifications Authority levels and setting up classroom and work-based training facilities.
The second stage will obtain scientific evidence and composition properties of the nine varieties from 42 trialled from 1993 to date - that Torere Macadamias have sole rights.
“These varieties significantly improve the viability of growing macadamias in NZ,” Ms Hayes said. “For example, proven high percentage quality kernel recovery - of whole kernel (Style 0 and 1) - high oil, low susceptibility to GVB, choice of Early, Mid and Late harvest varieties and geo-mapping to identify the best regions to grow each variety.
While the third stage will set up a corporate structure, with grower meetings and board appointments, as well as develop regional and international branding to secure sales and marketing pathways. Ms Hayes says while it is not for every grower, joining the co-op has several advantages, both personally and for the industry.
"If you are a new grower, the co-op eliminates the need to find processors, markets and all the stuff required to get your product to sale," she said. "It also provides the opportunity to invest in your own profit share business and benefit from cost sharing. Overall, it eliminates price wars between growers that could be detrimental to the industry, particularly as the numbers of growers is increasing dramatically."
There are currently 200 growers producing around 66 tonnes of macadamias kernel for the domestic market with only a very small percentage exported. Demand for NZ macadamias far outstrips supply, and Ms Hayes says they just do not have enough trees in the ground.
The 2018 NZ Macadamia Society (NZMS) membership jumped from 15 in 2017 to 50, due to Torere Macadamias encouragement of new growers to join. Ms Hayes says the NZMS serves as a forum for growers to share ideas, whereas the pending Grower Cooperative offers the opportunity for growers to improve their financial returns. As there is no industry body setup to drive growth or macadamia research and development in NZ, Torere Macadamias as Variety Researcher for 35 years has taken the lead role of Industry Developer.