by Jim Alouat
CHINA'S insatiable love for all things macadamia is behind a Bundaberg company's $11.7 million expansion plan to capitalise on an ever-growing market showing no signs of slowing down.
Macadamias Australia director Trevor Steinhardt is cracking a smile today as he prepares to introduce his family-owned, Goodwood Rd agribusiness to the Chinese market next April.
"The China market has gone from zero to consuming about 30% of world production in five years and it's still not enough,” he said.
"We're aggressively planting more trees.
"We have 130,000 trees and will plant another 60,000.”
Last year, Bundaberg was crowned macadamia king as the largest Australian producer of the versatile nut.
Bundaberg produces about 40% of Australia's total crop of 48,000 tonnes and last year China imported 49,000 tonnes of macadamias from across the world.
The proposed $11.7 million expansion to the company's Bundaberg factory and retail outlet would create more than 100 jobs during construction and when the facility is fully operational.
There are also plans for a behind-the-scenes tour facility to showcase the macadamias from the tree to the store.
"People buy from our shopfront here at the farm and always want to know more about what is,” Mr Steinhardt said.
The application for the proposal is before Bundaberg Regional Council and planning and development spokesman Ross Sommerfeld is excited about its potential.
"This project delivers on so many fronts including a growth in agriculture and a major impact on the local tourism industry,” Cr Sommerfeld said.
"The Steinhardt family have established themselves as a company operating to the highest standards of quality and their long-standing engagement with overseas markets is testament to the respect they engender from their clients.
"The family developed the property off Goodwood Road in 1957 and the agribusiness now supplies macadamia kernel to over 15 countries worldwide.”
Free trade agreements between Australia and China have also opened the market with the tariffs on macadamias to be removed by January 1, 2019.
Mr Steinhardt said a pilot plant facility would be up and running within a month with the aim of moving into full scale production should everything go as planned.