Indigenous to Australia, the macadamia nut presents itself globally in a variety of ways – it makes a great snack, baking and cooking ingredient, and is now being tested for high use in cosmetics. Over the last few years, the Macadamia nut has grown in use and popularity, and Scott Gregson-Allcott, Managing Director of Macadamia Farm Management (MFM) is confident in his innovations towards the industry’s future.
MFM was established in 1987 “to provide quality farm management,” and to present an alternative option to the stock market and commercial real estate for potential investors. Gregson-Allcott, a graduate of the University of Queensland with a Bachelor in Crop Science, purchased the company in 2010. Now – partnered with Bundaberg Macadamias Pty Ltd (BUM), BundySort Pty Ltd, and Bundy Skip Bins (BSB) – MFM provides Management to both private and commercial orchards, ensuring that desired land is suitable for future product growth within Bundaberg, Gympie, and along the northern rivers of New South Wales.
“We provide a real opportunity for domestic and foreign investment into the industry,” says Gregson-Allcott. “In other words, lack of skill set from an investor basis is no problem. We basically do the hard work for them. Our services are simply managing and marketing the orchards and the nuts. So, with the current returns in Macadamias, it provides a great opportunity for the world to invest in food security.”
A high percentage of the Macadamias grown are exported directly to China, and from there they are processed. Recently, the use for these nuts has expanded to a wider range of products, including a lactose-free macadamia milk; this is good news for Gregson-Allcott and MFM, as sustainability within the industry is one of the company’s primary objectives. “The uses are endless and obviously they’re starting to be recognised more and more throughout the world.”
“The macadamia industry, being the only native commercial food to be exported from Australia, prides itself from quality and practices with long-term sustainability,” says Gregson-Allcott. “A lot of our production is done with long-term vision. The environment is obviously at the forefront of our practices.”
With their ecological footprint in mind, MFM is conscious of the negative effects of herbicides and chemical fertilisers; they work hard to maintain soil health and biology with the assistance of compost, and use the most advanced technology to reduce the use of herbicides. This “clean, green image” of quality within Australia is something that needs to be solidified going forward. “Long-term stability is definitely our goal. We need to maximise production with minimal inputs going forward. It’s very real, and it’s being put to practice.”
It is the responsibility of the MFM team to ensure all practices are being followed, and the security of the company’s employees is of utmost importance. Currently, 45 staff are employed under Macadamia Farm Management, and these employees are very valuable to the success of the company – as Gregson-Allcott explains, “without staff, we have nothing.”
“Our staff are our biggest asset. We operate as a team, and employment of MFM is looked upon as long-term. There’s a current level of health and safety and training required. We need to maintain good staff to help produce quality nuts.”
Emphasis on team mentality and close family values gives Gregson-Allcott confidence for the company’s future success. With input costs on the rise, it is essential for all facets of the company to work together to ensure sustainability and increase production, while maintaining or reducing its current costs.
“The mac industry needs to maintain critical size to be competitive in the world market. Land prices in Australia have risen to the point that expansion will be minimal with regards to new plantings.
MFM is committed to the Australian Macadamia industry, and aims to grow its management of orchards well into the future.”
Currently, macadamias act as a longer term investment and require at least a 10-year commitment for a fair return. However, one of Gregson-Allcott’s personal goals is to maximise returns for investors and, in turn, expand the company to a certainly foreseeable “bright future.”
“MFM offers a real opportunity to own a part of Australian soil. Food security has been recognised in the last couple of years and appears to be of high priority by our northern neighbours. Australia offers consistent low-risk governance combined with professional, trustworthy management, which combines for a sound investment.”