School children from Brunswick Heads will take a tour of 'macadamia country' tomorrow, as part of a massive macadamia industry schools project which is teaching local youngsters all about the important contribution the local macadamia industry makes to the regional and national economy.
Brunswick Heads Public School students have been helping to celebrate the Australian macadamia industry's 40th anniversary, by participating in the Australian Macadamia Society's schools project. They will tour the Macadamia Processing Company's facility in Alphadale as part of the project, where they will find out how the nuts are processed, and participate in a taste-testing session. MPC are the world's largest processor and supplier of quality macadamia products.
Australia is the birthplace of macadamias and this year marks four decades of commercial production, dating back to when the Australian Macadamia Society, the industry body was established in 1974. MPC is also celebrating their 30th birthday this year.
"The Northern Rivers is the macadamia capital of Australia, and it's exciting there's such a buzz around celebrating the iconic native nut and learning more about the important contribution the macadamia industry makes to this community," says Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett.
Ten local schools (and approximately 1000 local school children) have helped celebrate the industry's 40th birthday by participating in a range of macadamia-themed activities - including colouring-in sheets, project packs, a fancy dress fundraising day (raising funds for the Macadamia Conservation Trust) or planting a macadamia tree.
The first Australian macadamia plantation was established in the 1880s, long before 1974, but it wasn't until the introduction of mechanical processing that commercial production of the tough nut became feasible.
"Australia now leads the world in kernel production and accounts for 30% of the world's crop," said Mr. Burnett.
From its small beginnings in the Northern Rivers 40 years ago, there are now more than 700 growers (from Mackay, Bundaberg, Gympie and Glass House Mountains in QLD to the Northern Rivers and Nambucca in NSW) contributing to the success of the industry. They produce around 40,000t of nut-in-shell each year, and 70% of this production is exported to 40 countries worldwide. The Northern Rivers region is largest macadamia producing region in Australia, producing around half of Australia's macadamias.
Since the 1990s, plantings have grown five-fold and the industry is currently worth $200 million annually at the farm gate and $320 million retail. It also employs thousands of people and contributes millions of dollars to regional economies.
Mr. Burnett said this growth and success are in no small part the result of Aussie growers who are passionate about innovation, quality and sustainability and constantly invest in research and development to produce high quality nuts that are in demand around the world.