THE pigs are feral and the seasons unfortunate, but a new free trade agreement promises to boost to the Gympie region's long suffering macadamia industry.
The agreement will remove the 30% tariff which has been the single greatest barrier to Australian sales in the increasingly lucrative South Korean market.
Suncoast Gold grower services co-ordinator Brice Kaddatz says Korean macadamia imports are projected to increase from 200 tonnes a year to "1500 tonnes and beyond".
Importantly, that 200 tonnes is 97.3% Australian, and much of it comes from the near-Gympie area.
"Macadamias are held in high esteem in Korea, as they are in most parts of the world.
"We are in the process of developing the Korean market," Mr Kaddatz - also a board member of the Australian Macadamia Society - said yesterday.
"The tariff on Australian producers is 30%, levied by Korea. That will now be eliminated over a period of five years," he said.
Meeting demand will be the next problem in a market which has grown 240% in the past five years.
Feral pigs are an emerging menace as they gorge on fallen nuts across the region, from Wolvi and Anderleigh to the Mary Valley.
And the weather has been hostile, with big wet seasons promoting rot, followed by significant dry spells, when there is not enough water for root growth.
"The root systems have taken a hammering," he said.
AMS CEO Jolyan Burnett said the new free trade agreement "represents a major opportunity for the Australian macadamia industry and local Gympie growers, allowing us to undertake significant expansion into that market".
"The FTA will reduce the tariff on macadamias from 30% to zero over the next five years.
"The AMS has lobbied extensively to achieve this result, which will see us strengthen our position in this major market."
Mr Burnett said following extensive research in 2011, the AMS had identified Korea as one of its priority new markets, launching its first major promotional campaign there earlier this year.
"We believe this market has the potential to grow as big as our Japanese market," Mr Burnett said yesterday.
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