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Doortje Maillard from LIMBUA Deutschland Ltd on macadamia production at Mount Kenya:

"We produce macadamia nuts via over 7,000 certified organic smallholder farmers"

The German-Kenyan company LIMBUA works with more than 7,000 certified organic smallholders in Kenya and in 2022 alone produced some 900 tons of cracked macadamia nuts, which are marketed throughout Europe, the USA and Dubai. We spoke with Marketing Manager Doortje Maillard about the harvesting and production of the nuts at the foot of Mount Kenya.

Harvested macadamia nuts. Photo: LIMBUA

4,000 tons of macadamia nuts harvested last year
The nuts are vacuum packed in a protective atmosphere and have a minimum shelf life of at least two years." Last year, we were able to produce 900 tons of cracked macadamia nuts. That's roughly equivalent to 4,000 tons of harvested nuts in shell." Thanks to the fertile soil in the volcanic region, there is no need for artificial irrigation. "The macadamias grow in organic mixed crops without chemical pesticides, rather than monocultures. The smallholders get many of the trees from our own LIMBUA nursery and these are already certified organic and particularly high-yielding."

"The produce is purchased by our LIMBUA teams directly from the smallholders in a completely digitized process. The macadamias are weighed and the money is paid to the growers via cell phone in real time. Then, the nuts are transported to our nearby four manufactories without intermediaries for further processing," Maillard tells us. "LIMBUA is located directly at the foot of Mount Kenya between smallholder farms - meaning fresh raw produce directly from the grower. In addition to nuts, other smallholder products such as avocados and mangoes are processed in the manufactories and prepared for export worldwide."

The company was founded in 2009 by Matti Spiecker with the idea of improving the lives of rural people and leaving as much value creation as possible in the country. "We help farmers with organic certification and support them with training so they can stay up-to-date and be self-empowered. We've also been able to create more than 700 additional jobs in the rural region." Only the Macadamia integrifolia variety is grown.

LIMBUA founder Matti Spiecker drew inspiration from social entrepreneurs around the world when he founded the company. Photo: LIMBUA

A special quality feature of the nuts lies, among other things, in the fact that they are individually cracked manually with specially developed nutcrackers as well as subsequently sorted by hand, Maillard said. "The macadamia is the hardest nut in the world, but the kernel itself is very soft and buttery. It is therefore quite susceptible to damage and is not very suitable for purely mechanical processing. Since the nuts are opened by hand in our company and are thus of high quality, the yield is correspondingly higher, which in turn generates more income for the smallholders."

Digital traceability
"We guarantee 100% traceability of the goods from the tree via the manufactory to the logistics centers in Mombasa, Rotterdam and Bochum. This means dependability and transparency for the customer. More and more trade but especially end customers want to know where the product comes from. Thanks to our specially developed digital system, we have made great progress in making the harvest purchasing processes faster, easier and, above all, safer," says Maillard.

 Cracking and sorting macadamia nuts Photo: LIMBUA

High demand in wholesale and processing
Demand in Germany and the U.S. is shaping up well. "Our customers include the Rapunzel Naturkost company, which selects the goods according to their in-house hand-in-hand criteria. This also involves their fair organic label." Worldwide, our customers include retailers as well as processors, that is, from smaller praline manufactories to organic wholesalers. Of course, we also try to convince the international market of our products."

At the same time, there is a widespread perception in Germany that macadamias are a "luxury product." "We don't have a B2C end product, which is sold through a certain brand name or packaging. LIMBUA macadamias are high-quality, certified nuts sold in bulk to retailers or processors, starting at 11.34 kg and going up to containerized sizes. However, in addition to processors, there are many customers who offer the product as natural snack nuts and place them on their shelves."

The nuts are transported by ship to the warehouse in Bochum and shipped from there. "Depending on the country, they are also shipped directly from Kenya worldwide. Shipping is not wholly environmentally sound, but we are trying to offset CO2, such as in that we have already planted over 150,000 macadamia tree seedlings. The next project is to equip the manufactories with solar cells. Furthermore, we use the shells of cracked macadamia by means of combustion to generate electricity for the drying process of the nuts."

For more information:
Doortje Maillard
LIMBUA Deutschland GmbH
Raunerweg 13
82211 Herrsching
Tel. : +49 (0) 30 5557796 -22
Fax : +49 (0) 30 5557796 -29

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