An increase in the global consumption of nuts has sparked strong demand for macadamia farms, pushing prices higher along the NSW north coast and into Queensland.
Based on a number of recent sales of reasonably sized macadamia farms, values at the top end of the market have increased to about $100,000 in mid 2019 from about $85,000 per mature orchard hectare at the end of 2018, according to valuer Herron Todd White’s latest market report.
“A shortage of listings of rural properties for sale is a feature of the current market on the New South Wales north coast. Strong demand is apparent and continues for macadamia farms,” the report said.
Shaun Hendy, Colliers International’s director of rural and agribusiness valuation, said a rise in values of macadamia farms in Australia was a function of strong demand for produce of permanent tree crops globally.
“Consumption has risen significantly for many crops and that trend is not just for macadamias themselves but also pecans, almonds and walnuts as well as citrus,” Mr Hendy said.
While macadamias have traditionally been grown along the coast in high-rainfall areas, farmers were now looking to grow them inland with lower rainfall and more reliance on irrigation.
“There’s been a lot of new plantings in the last five to six years. The demand for land suitable for planting has increased significantly, and they are now looking outside traditional areas to grow macadamia as well,” Mr Hendy added.
China, and Asia more broadly, has been a large consumer of Australia’s macadamias and our export markets have grown significantly with global demand for the tree nut and its byproducts such as oil, creams and soaps.
The macadamia is the second-biggest export nut in Australia after almonds. Its export value is expected to hit $350 million in 2025 from $82 million in 2011, according to the Australian Nut Industry Council.
“There is a lot of overseas interest in macadamia farms, but we also have some large family growers who are expanding and then there are investors looking at acquisitions and leasebacks and they tend to be the institutional and pension fund-type market segments,” Mr Hendy said.
Meanwhile it’s not such good news for the sugar cane farm market, with the world sugar price down to $US11.47¢ per pound, according to Herron Todd White. Subsidised Indian sugar continues to impact negatively, the report said.
Last year a major nut grower bought a 623-hectare cane farm in Queensland’s Maryborough for $12 million with plans to turn it into a macadamia farm, highlighting a growing trend towards converting sugar cane fields into farmland for higher-yielding crops.
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