Region’s role in macca industry going nuts globally
THE Northern Rivers' claim to be the 'macadamia nut capital' of Australia got a significant boost yesterday with a merger between four well-known companies.
At the centre of the move was Lismore Macadamia Processing Company (MPC), which announced it has morphed to become Australia's largest macadamia processor and marketer by relaunching under a new brand, Marquis Macadamia.
The new brand comprises MPC and its wholly owned subsidiary Pacific Gold Macadamias (PGM), based in Bundaberg, as well as their Brisbane marketing company Macadamia Marketing International (MMI), which was jointly owned by South Africa's Global Macadamias.
Marquis will grow, process and sell 48 per cent of Australia's macadamia production and will be responsible for 22 per cent of global kernel sales, while handling more than 16 per cent of the world's nut in shell (NIS) production.
Chief executive officer Larry McHugh said the grower-owned group aimed to double turnover from $250 million in 2019 to $500 million by 2024.
"Bringing MPC, PGM and MMI under the one brand is about consolidating our current position as the world's largest macadamia processor and marketer," Mr McHugh said.
"The addition of South Africa's Global Macadamias will initially add an additional 15,000 tonnes of nut-in-shell and 2500 tonnes of kernel to the group's production... this will grow rapidly."
He said MPC became affiliated with South Africa's Global Macadamias through "the largest growers in the world" and founding MPC shareholder Phil Zado.
"There are five major shareholders in South Africa, so they are contributing most of that nut in shell and bringing in crop from other growers from the Global factory over there," he said.
"We've been selling Kenyan and South African product since 2013, but we always sell our Australian product as clean and green. Australian products are still preferred in many of the markets around the world so it hasn't affected the image of Australia and the fact it's the home of the nut in the first place."
About 350 growers deliver to the Lismore site alone, which Mr McHugh said included "a large proportion of the Northern Rivers growers".
He said the Northern Rivers macadamia industry "is a big industry in the region which is injecting a lot of money in, and we think the industry is doing very well".
He said the amalgamation of the companies meant Marquis would have access to the largest growers worldwide while adding regional diversity to the company's supply chain.
"Sourcing our macadamias from two continents reduces our exposure to drought and other seasonal variabilities that affect supply," he said.
With the threat of coronavirus or COVID-19 having the potential to affect world trade, Mr McHugh said there was a real risk the disease could impactin Marquis' global exports.
"It's early days, so we don't know yet," he said.
"We are 70 per cent export, so we are watching and waiting.
"We do sell product to China, but our proportion into China is fairly small and we do have other markets... it's a good market but we've already reduced our forecast quantity for this year to go to China.
"It's not just our business who would be affected, it would be every single business in Australia, and around the world who export."
Mr McHugh said Marquis Macadamias would continue to invest millions of dollars in technology into its plants to meet increased supply and demand and increase its processing volumes.
"We are employing 170 people on this site with about 30 permanent staff - and that will be likely to grow as we grow capacity," he said.