Queensland’s traditional sugarcane landscape is undergoing a quiet transformation, with cane farms converting to macadamias.
Investment in macadamias has increased, and the growth of the industry can be seen on the ground in the Wide Bay-Burnett region, said Colliers International Rural senior executive Trenton Hindman.
“Buyers are investing in Queensland’s relatively inexpensive agricultural land and water, and converting it to tree crops that will yield higher returns – which is why macadamias have become popular,” Mr Hindman said.
“A growing number of cane farms are being repurposed in favour of macadamias.”
Mr Hindman pointed to a recent deal he brokered with PRD’s Tony Nioa, in which one of Australia’s leading macadamia producers purchased a 623 ha Maryborough cane farm.
The property sold for $12.1 million and is set on 27 freehold lots. It has a five-year lease in place to a multinational sugar operator, and is showing a rental return of 1.8 per cent per annum.
“This particular property has well-established infrastructure in place, and ideal topography and scale for conversion to the mechanical harvesting of macadamias,” Mr Hindman said.
“The land is flat and lends itself to efficient orchard layouts.”
Last year Mr Hindman also sold a 124 ha cane farm at Mahoneys Road, Bundaberg for $2 million to an Asian-based macadamia exporter.
Macadamia prices have almost doubled in the last five years. In 2017, Australia’s macadamia crop was estimated at 54,000 tonnes and had its fourth consecutive year of growth. In February this year, the Australian Macadamia Society confirmed that the industry will continue to expand during the next 12 months.
According to the Australian Macadamia Society, 40 per cent of Australian macadamia sales are in the Asia-Pacific region, with growing international markets in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. The key driver of growth is Asia’s increasing interest healthy foods and their propensity to snack.