The Delectable Macadamia Nut: A Pricy Cash Crop

Key Metrics

Current Global Market Value

> USD 1.40 billion

Forecast Period Between 2023 to 2028 (CAGR)

 > 10%

Estimated Global Market Value by 2028

> USD 2 Billion

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A Vital Income Source for Smallholder Farmers in Kenya

Kenya boasts a favorable climate and fertile agricultural land, making it an ideal hub for macadamia production. Over the past decade, Kenya has witnessed a significant surge in macadamia production. In 2009, the output of macadamia nut-in-shell (NIS) stood at approximately 11,000 tonnes. Remarkably, by 2018, this figure had skyrocketed to 42,500 tonnes, and projections indicate an impressive 60,000 tonnes of NIS by 2022.

Kenya’s prominence in macadamia farming is underscored by its status as the third-largest producer globally, capturing a remarkable 13 percent of the global market share (equivalent to 7,750 tonnes on a kernel basis). This growth isn’t merely confined to the local market; it has evolved into a significant foreign exchange earner. 

In 2018, the export value of macadamia kernel soared to USD 9.44 per kilo, positioning it as one of Kenya’s most profitable cash crops, following closely behind tea.

Crucially, the driving force behind this thriving industry is the dedication of around 200,000 smallholder farmers, primarily from Kenya’s rural areas. These farmers have found macadamia farming to be a vital income source, further reinforcing Kenya’s status as a global macadamia leader. With the global macadamia market projected to grow from just over 1 billion USD to surpass 2 billion USD by 2028, this cash crop presents an even brighter and more lucrative future for Kenya’s agricultural landscape.

tonnes nuts-in-shell by 2022

metric tons of macadamia nuts in 2020

Highly valued commodity with a Growing Demand

The macadamia nut, from the macadamia tree, native to Australia, but now also widely grown in Kenya, is a versatile and highly prized commodity from which local farmers are making a good living. The nut is known for its rich, buttery flavor and creamy texture, making it a popular choice in the culinary world, and enjoyed in various forms, mostly roasted and salted, offering a delightful and satisfying snack option.

Macadamia nuts are commonly used in various consumer products, including confectionery, baked goods, snacks, and as a standalone ingredient in savory and sweet dishes, in baking — adding a unique and indulgent flavor to cookies, cakes, and muffins — and in the production of nut butters — a luxurious spread, perfect for sandwiches, toast, or as a dip for fruits and vegetables. Macadamia oil, with its high smoke point and delicate taste, is often used in gourmet cooking, salad dressings, and as a finishing oil to enhance the flavor and texture of various dishes.

Due to their nutritional value, macadamia nuts have progressively gained popularity among health-conscious consumers. They are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help promote heart health. Macadamia nuts also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Akili Group and The Macadamia Value Chain

As an enterprise, The Akili Group is deeply entrenched in the macadamia nut value chain in Kenya. We sprout, grow, graft and agronomically support smallholder macadamia nut tree farmers to: 

  •  Grow the tree as part of our carbon-credit earning
  • Generating income from the nuts 
  • Provide shade for low growing crops such as coffee and tea, for the farmers.

An Opportunity in Value Addition

Kenya’s avocado industry presents a compelling opportunity to drive positive change for smallholder farmers and savvy investors alike. Astonishingly, more than 70% of Kenyan avocados, including those earmarked for export, are currently cultivated by smallholder farmers who, due to limited market access, find themselves reliant on intermediaries, thus missing out on the full spectrum of value chain benefits. This situation leads to inadequate returns for their tireless efforts.

Value addition allows us to meet the rising demand for processed macadamia products worldwide, including macadamia oil, roasted nuts, and other nut-based products. This diversification prefers higher profit margins and a reduced reliance on the fluctuating commodity market.

“According to available data, Kenya produced approximately 46,000 metric tons of macadamia nuts in 2020”

Empowering Communities Through The Macadamia Industry

Our investment venture will not only contribute to the growth of the macadamia industry but also have a positive impact on the livelihoods of small-scale producers in Kenya.

By providing a reliable market for their produce, we empower these farmers, enabling them to earn a fair price for their harvest and improve their socio-economic conditions. Through responsible sourcing and direct partnerships, we aim to create sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships with the local farming communities.