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Macadamia industry growth surge

Macadamia nut farmer Greg Smith inspects the crop on his farm at Brooklet. Despite volatility in the industry he expects its value will double over the next four years, making it worth $70 million by 2012.
Macadamia nut farmer Greg Smith inspects the crop on his farm at Brooklet. Despite volatility in the industry he expects its value will double over the next four years, making it worth $70 million by 2012. Jerad Williams

GREG SMITH is one North Coast macadamia nut farmer riding the industry’s current wave of success.

Mr Smith and his partner Jeff Rigby moved to Brooklet 10 years ago and purchased a 48.5-hectare (120-acre) macadamia farm.

Despite downsizing to 4.85ha four years ago, the couple have witnessed immense growth within the nut industry.

“There has been huge growth and shifts,” Mr Smith said.

“The management (of the industry) 10 years ago was very much government-guided.

“There was no marketing or research, no industry body as such, no vision, and it felt like there was no passion.

“We have an area of expanding plantations and tree crops, and that is a very good sign.

“I think the industry will grow ahead of CPI.

“We would need to grow in line with the expected expectations it places on itself and focus on international markets.”

Mr Smith’s story follows a prediction by the Australian Nut Industry Council (ANIC) that the nut industry will be worth $70 million by 2012 – a growth of 200 per cent over four years.

Nuts are one of Australia’s largest horticulture exporters, and the ANIC predicts it will take the top spot in a few years.

Mr Smith, a Sydney businessman turned life- style farmer, believes macadamias are the “Mercedes Benz in the car yard”.

“It is a very exciting and dynamic industry,” he said.

But the industry’s volatility can make it frustrating, he said.

Supply cannot always be controlled, as bad weather or pests have a widespread and instant effect on crops, he said.

Mr Smith predicted his crops would be “slightly” less this season, while some farmers predicted a “40 per cent” decrease.


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