What are Macadamia Nuts?

If you haven’t heard of these nuts which I highly doubt, you are probably asking, “What are macadamia nuts?” They are great tasting nuts originally from Australian, though they have become largely synonymous with Hawaii. Actually, Macadamia happens to be a genus name. There are quite a number of Macadamia species nuts but only two of them are grown for commercial purposes. These are the Macadamia intergrifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla. The nuts are in high demand and more companies are coming up to meet the demand. However, the tree takes a long time to grow and produce fruit steadily. Companies getting into this business must be mindful of this. As the saying goes, patience pays! Once the fruits ripen, the nuts fetch a good coin.

As stated above, the nuts are originally from Australia but are now grown all over the world, in places such as South Africa, California, Malawi and Brazil. However, they are largely produced in Hawaii. In fact, Hawaii accounts for a whopping 90% of the total macadamia nuts produced globally! The macadamia tree was first taken to Hawaii by William Herbert Purvis. He was a manager in a sugar plantation. He had once visited Queensland, Australia and loved how the tree grew. He carried seeds and planted one in Kapulena. He natured them well though he had only planted them for beauty, not the nuts. The trees continued to be grown for about 40 years for their alluring beauty. It is said that one of the trees William Purvis planted still grows and produces fruit.

The University of Hawaii took to conducting proper research on the tree. The aim was to come up with the best biological strains and weather combination to achieve good yields in large quantities. This was after Ernest Shelton Van Tassell tried unsuccessfully to establish a plantation in Honolulu in the year 1921. His plantation produced nuts that were varying in yield prompting the University’s research. The research period lasted for twenty years. Remember when I said one has to be really patient with these nuts? I wasn’t kidding. The tree could take up to seven years to produce a substantial yield. Fortunately, the research was successful and a great quality yield was produced. In the middle of the twentieth century, commercial production of macadamia nuts took a great leap. Castle & Cooke and C. Brewer and Company Ltd started to produce nuts for sale. They two carried out successful businesses until C. Brewer bought out Castle & Cooke. They then produced and sold nuts as Mauna Loa.

They got sugar plantations that had long ceased to be fully productive and converted them to produce macadamia. They did this at the rate of a thousand acres per year. They then went further ahead to improve their yield and were able to come up with a way to produce whole nuts, satisfying a worldwide demand. Mauna Loa also came up with flavors including honey roasted nuts and chocolate covered ones. The chocolate covered one are on high demand as they also make good gifts for all occasions and celebrations. They continue to come up with flavors that are loved by customers all over the world. To this day, Mauna Loa produces the most macadamia seeds worldwide. The company has been operating from Hawaii near the Mauna Loa volcanic mountain it is named after. This is their main facility, though there are others in various areas. It has been able to sustain itself well enough from the sale of nuts. The company’s main production centre has a steam generator enabling it to use waste and generate electricity for the production and packaging of the nuts. This enables it not only to conserve the environment but also to reduce on production costs, thus it continues to realize huge profit. However, the company has recently seen a reduction in sales, a situation that will hopefully be resolved.

Other than an unbelievably good taste, macadamia nuts have numerous health benefits. The cholesterol levels are low and they are the least likely nuts to cause heart problems and other cholesterol related illnesses. As long as you are careful not to have too many of the nuts, you will remain healthy. The recommended amount is a handful a day and absolutely no more. Feel free to enjoy the delicious nuts. What’s more, if you are ever in Hawaii, visit the Mauna Loa Visitor Centre to learn more on how they are produced and packaged.

Back to the guide list