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South African macadamia farmers might face a four-year struggle

Trends in macadamia nut farming margins are showing a downward spiral of lower yields, lower prices and higher input costs. But with good management, farmers should be able to weather the storm.

Juan Winter, managing director of Source BI, addressed this topic at the AmberMacs Expo in White River, Mpumalanga: “In 2019, farmers received on average R74/kg of dry-nut-in-shell (DNIS) for their produce, R83/kg in 2020 when the exchange rate was on their side, but then only R63/kg in 2021. We are still waiting for final figures but expect the 2022 price to be R50/kg.”

The lower prices were a direct result of higher volumes on the market, with the South African crop jumping from around 53 000t DNIS in 2020 to 72 000t DNIS last year. The 2023 crop was expected to be significantly higher. Demand had also stagnated off the back off subdued spending power in countries where macadamia nuts were traditionally consumed (the EU and China) as a result of the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 lockdowns, respectively.

Winter noted that the biggest challenge for most macadamia farmers was surviving the next four years: “Yield is the biggest determinant of profit. Farmers achieving less than 2,3t/ha on average will not make it. The problem is that around 41% of the industry’s trees are not yet mature, which means they are not reaching yield levels that will keep the farmers in business.”


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