‘Planets align’ for Gympie nuts

BIG NEWS: China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott after statements to the media following the signing of a free trade agreement at Parliament House on Monday. The trade deal is big news for Gympie region’s macadamia industry.
BIG NEWS: China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott after statements to the media following the signing of a free trade agreement at Parliament House on Monday. The trade deal is big news for Gympie region’s macadamia industry. Craig Warhurst

"THE planets are aligning," Gympie macadamia export executive Brian Loader said this week.

Mr Loader, who is sales and marketing director of Gympie's grower-owned Suncoast Gold processing works, says Australia's free trade relationship with China will be a big boost for growers.

And it is not the only good news going around.

It is, he says, an important step forward for an industry which has begun to make big progress on the world consumer market.

And it could not have come at a more important time.

"We're expecting a big crop this year, we hope," he said.

"It's all coming together for macadamias."

Mr Loader says the G-20 announcement will help further develop the link with China, already the world's second largest consumer market for macadamias.

"The US is Number One, but they grow about 30% of what they consume and import the rest from here and Africa."

Allowing for all that, China is now Australia's largest market, according to Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett, who also welcomed the deal.

And although the Chinese market is mostly for unprocessed nuts, Mr Loader says the deal is good news for processors, too.

"China is already a fairy large consumer of kernel as well as nut- in- shell," he said.

"This is only going to promote further consumption in that market place."

"Look at the free trade deal with Japan, the one recently signed with Korea, our duty-free relationship with ASEAN nations and, of course, our free trade deal with the US.

"You have to say our various governments have done a pretty good job on behalf of Australian agriculture.

"China now fills a very large gap," he said.

"Looking at the big picture, the planets are aligning for macadamias. If you look around the Pacific Rim, various governments have helped create an uncomplicated trading platform.

"We've got a very good deck from which to play.

"We have a variety of emerging and established markets.

"Improved access from a trade perspective comes together with progress in shipping, logistics and supply management and it all really does suit Australian agricultural industry.

"It's up to us now to maximise the benefits," he said.

SHELLING OUT: Maccas in the shell are a whole new product.
SHELLING OUT: Maccas in the shell are a whole new product.

China gives world a whole new way to eat our macadamias

THE Chinese love our macadamias so much they've even developed their own way of eating them, according to Suncoast Gold sales and marketing director Brian Loader.

And that may require us to develop new ways of doing what we do, he says.

Mr Loader says the Chinese preference for nut-in-shell presents quality assurance challenges for exporters unable to see the nut kernels.

But we will find a way, he says.

"The Chinese are becoming more diligent and sophisticated in quality issues, so there's a role for processors in assuring that quality, even in-shell.

"Traditionally, snack nuts are consumed in China in-shell, whether it's maccas, or almonds, walnuts, pecans... all are consumed in the shell.

"The processing methods Chinese use to prepare macadamias for consumption are unique and at times arduous.

"They put a saw cut in the outside of the shell.

"The nuts are then soaked in brine and roasted for many hours, which makes the shell quite brittle.

"They are then sold as salted, roasted nuts in the shell and they are typically sold with a metal key.

"They will insert the key into the slot made by the saw cut and twist it and most typically, the shell pops into two pieces."

A difficulty is ensuring kernel quality "when you can't see it."

Gympie Times

Topics:  china free trade agreement gympie macadamia nuts

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