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Macadamia Farmers Offered New Organic Service

Macadamia farmers offered new organic service Thursday 4th November 2010 MACADAMIA farmers wishing to convert to organic growing methods are being offered a new organic processing and marketing service, and assistance and advice from Australia’s largest macadamia nut processor, Macadamia Processing Company (MPC).

MPC, which owns and operates one of the world’s largest macadamia processing facilities at Alphadale, near Lismore in northern NSW, is offering a new organic processing service for any farmers who wish to grow their macadamias without the use of synthetic chemicals.

‘We are pleased to offer this new service to growers,’ MPC Co Ltd General Manager Larry McHugh said. ‘Going organic could be a way for some farmers who are so inclined to become more profitable and sustainable in what can be a very competitive industry.’

Organically grown macadamia nuts can fetch a premium price of up to 50 per cent more than nuts grown in the conventional manner.

MPC, which processes between 25 and 30 per cent of Australia’s macadamia crop, is the first major macadamia processing company to offer a full organic service to growers. MPC will accept supply from any organic grower – there is no requirement to be a shareholder.

‘Until now organic growers have had to organise the processing, sales and marketing of their product themselves,’ Mr McHugh said. ‘We’re offering them the opportunity to concentrate on growing and we’ll do the work from then on, as well as working with growers who want to go organic and offering them assistance.’

That includes advising growers one-on-one, and information evenings that started in early May about what is involved in the Australian Certified Organic process, as well as providing ongoing support.

Currently only about 2.5 per cent of Australia’s macadamia nuts are grown organically, but the local and global demand for organic nuts has been growing for some years now.

Australian macadamia nuts enjoy a high reputation around the world and are sought after as a high-quality snack food, in confectionary products such as chocolate-coated nuts and in nut bars, in ice-cream and bakery products such as cookies, as well as in cosmetics.

“It typically takes three years for macadamia farmers to become certified organic. While they save on pesticide, herbicide and fungicide costs, they generally spend more on labour. In some seasons they might lose a higher percentage of their crop due to insect damage,” Mr McHugh said.

MPC is a co-operative owned by more than 170 Australian macadamia growers. It was set up in 1983 when the macadamia industry began to take off on the NSW north coast and South East Queensland – the region where macadamia nut trees originate from. It has since become a global industry, with South Africa being Australia’s main competitor.

MPC’s macadamia nut quality is regarded as one of the highest in the world. MPC is actively working to develop new value-added products and new markets for macadamias on the global stage.

For more information and/or to arrange an interview contact: Jane Thomson / Luke Roberts Cape Public Relations (02) 66 872 803 or mobile: 0413 682 377