MPC is a highly successful commercial enterprise that is still owned by growers. It’s been that way since its creation in 1983, when a few macadamia growers near Lismore decided to take control of the production and marketing of their own produce.
MPC started with humble beginnings as a small processing plant in a shed near Lismore. The company processed just over 50 tonnes of nut-in-shell in its first year – which took three months to complete with the basic equipment they had at the time, earning just over $100,000.
Thirty years later MPC has grown to become the largest and most successful macadamia processor in the world. It has its own land and custom-built factory at Alphadale near Lismore, which was built in 1986. It has been continually upgraded ever since, with major upgrades completed in 2001 and 2003. The factory currently processes around 10-13,000 tonnes of nut-in-shell per annum, and turns over approximately $80 million a year (depending on the crop size, prices, exchange rate etc).
It has a net financial worth or shareholder equity of $21.0 million, making it a financially strong company.
MPC has grown from is original four shareholders to over 180 shareholders. Since 2010 grower shareholders have received a dividend on their shares and investment in the company.
Staff numbers have grown from the two founders to a staff of about 160 people, with 33 permanent staff, and about 130 seasonal staff, making it one of the largest employers in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
The factory originally operated 16 hours a day, five days a week, when it was first built in 1986. It now runs 24 hours a day, five days a week during the harvest season, which generally runs from April to the end of November. During the off season, from December to March, factory staff carry out maintenance work on all the equipment and implement any upgrades. Reprocessing activities such as roasting and dicing continue all year round.
Modern colour sorting has replaced much of the hand sorting that was used in the original factory.
MPC has managed to retain many of its key permanent staff for a long time, providing stability for the company. Many key staff have been with the company for over 20 years and it is this level of experience that makes MPC a market leader.
Through the efforts of growers, the board, management and staff, MPC has forged a world leadership position in macadamia processing and marketing. The company has continually implemented new techniques and cutting-edge technology to help lower processing costs, improve the quality of macadamia kernel provided to the market and maximise grower returns.
MPC has achieved acknowledgement at the highest levels and won several awards. In congratulating MPC on is major factory upgrade in 2001, then Prime Minister John Howard wished the company all the best ‘in your continuing efforts to expand the market for our quality Australian product and to maintain your leading position as the largest supplier of bulk macadamia in the world’.
Overall MPC has built its reputation on quality. Its kernel is highly regarded and in demand throughout the world, and consistently commands higher prices than kernel from other countries.
The purchase of a 50 per cent stake in Pacific Gold Macadamias (PGM) in Bundaberg was part of MPC’s focus on strengthening the future for macadamia growers in Australia. The creation of a separate marketing company MMI in 2011, which could supply customers with greater volumes of kernel, had boosted the company’s international marketing efforts.
MMI has successfully marketed the kernel from MPC’s factory, the PGM factory in Bundaberg as well as from other select producers around the world. The greater supply of kernel increases MMI’s power in the market place and helps to create a more stable future for growers.
MPC has been pivotal in driving many initiatives in the Australian macadamia industry and is regarded as the leader of the industry. The company works actively with the local and world macadamia industry, including the Australian Macadamia Society, growers, and increasingly with overseas producers and overseas processors. Its aim is to steer the industry to a secure and sustainable future.
MPC has gone through some turbulent times over the years and gone close to going broke on occasion, but it has survived due to the dedication of all involved – board members, management, staff and shareholders. It is the envy of the macadamia industry. Not bad for a company that started in a tin shed in Goonellabah, NSW!
Through the efforts of growers, the board, management and staff, MPC has forged a world leadership position in macadamia processing and marketing.