Multi-million rand investment into mega macadamia processing facility

Are macadamia nuts poised to be a new gold for SA? Phase one of South Africa’s biggest macadamia factory is up and running to meet an astronomic increase in supply in the coming years.

Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC) has undertaken to build South Africa’s biggest macadamia nut processing facility with phase one of two set for completion in 2018.

The company says the project, which is already underway at the existing factory in White River, demonstrates its commitment to the industry and underpins its strategy to ensure that macadamia nuts remain a sustainable and profitable business for the future.

According to the Southern African Macadamia Growers Association (SAMAC), new macadamia tree plantings in South Africa have tripled in the last four years from 1250 hectares in 2013 to 3870 hectares in 2016, with an almost doubling of plantings between 2015 and 2016 from 2000 hectares to 3870.

Currently there are 28 000 hectares of established macadamia orchards with the largest growing region being in Mpumalanga followed by Limpopo and KZN.

“We are invested for the long run. We will cultivate our business alongside growth in the crop: based on historic and ongoing exponential plantings our view is that it is imperative to increase processing capacity to ensure long term viability for the industry and our farmers,” says Alex Whyte, GM of GFNC.

“Industry figures project a 40% increase of nut in-shell from 38 500 tonnes in 2016 to 64 800 tonnes in 2020.

“To absorb this astronomic supply increase, our approach rests on three key pillars: processing capacity, sophisticated product marketing and value add, all of which are inextricably linked to being able to sell at currently buoyant prices in future,” continues Whyte.

The project, which will deliver South Africa’s largest single processing facility, is outlined over two phases. The first phase is planned for completion for the start of the 2018 season in February next year. Key aspects include:

  • Factory size increased by an additional 7000 m2 from current 3000 m2 to 10 000 m2
  • 40% increase in processing capacity from 5 500 tonnes to 8 000 tonnes dry nut in-shell
  • Additional 250 tonnes drying bin storage capability, to total 800 tonnes. All in-shell and kernel nuts go through a drying process
  • State-of-the-art optic sorters that will drive efficiency through increased processing speed and ensure processing fees are kept to a minimum
  • Latest technology in sterilisation techniques. All kernels are sterilised to meet stringent food safety demands
  • Reduced water usage through improved technology and electricity cost saving by burning macadamia nut shell by-product to dry in-shell and kernel nuts

Completion of phase two of the project is estimated for 2020, with key components including total processing capacity upwards of 15 000 tonnes dry nut in-shell, further technology and equipment upgrades as well as increased storage and warehousing.

GFNC currently has the largest processing capability in the country with factories in Mpumalanga, KZN and Limpopo. The Limpopo and KZN factories have recently been expanded, and together the operation has 12 200 square metres under roof at present.

“Through our marketing business and largest seller of macadamias globally, Green & Gold Nuts, we are confident we’ll achieve the right mix in our three tiered strategic approach.

“With China reporting extensive domestic plantings, a balanced marketing in-shell and kernel approach across the globe continues to be front of mind.

“We’re progressing looking into value-added activity like retail packing, roasting and macadamia oil to ensure we remain relevant in our evolution from an agri-processing business.

“Building direct relationships, cutting the middle-man, creating market stability and security to ideally deliver higher prices for our farmers are our drivers.

“We are first to market in making sure we’re ready for the anticipated bumper crop in 2018 and our doors are always open to all growers”, concludes Whyte.

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