Did you know that the macadamia nut tree takes seven years to establish their roots and bear nuts? The macadamia nut has an exclusive and almost luxurious reputation. This mainly being due to the amount of time it takes to actually harvest the nut. Although cost may fluctuate, they are consistently the most expensive nut available for purchase.
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Danger in the Macadamia Nut Market
Currently, the competition to dominate the market is brutal. Making it difficult for the nut to become an established source of income in third world countries. With the macadamia nut in such high demand, there are many participants in the race to cash in. This greed has created crime in the macadamia nut industry. Specifically, involving the Mexican Cartels with “20 illegal armed groups” in the farm areas of Mexico.
Mexican Cartels Exploit Macadamia Nut Crop Opportunity
Two of today’s most desired legal crops in Mexico are macadamia nuts and avocados. In Mexico, this means serious and sometimes bloody competition. Macadamia nuts professional are call and compare the macadamia to gold nuggets. The avocado has the nickname of “green gold” by Mexican growers.
In 2019, there were often as many as four trucks of avocados reported stolen daily. Michoacán Mexico is a hot spot for crime. In Uruapan, the murder rate skyrocketed 61% from 2018 to 2019, with many associated with drug cartels and theft.
In particular, for the Macadamia Nuts, their growing territory is to the East of Mexico City. Their city main city of trade is Puebla, Mexico. From there, the area East toward the Gulf is where the farms are. That area is shown in the map below.
The crimes involving these crops reflect cartel behavior of the past. They know these crops can create stability for their family and for their community. Mexican cartels have slowly but surely become more involved in growing operations. Expanding their scope of work far beyond drugs. Experts believe that the rise in violence that has plagued the avocado fields will reach the macadamia fields.
Conflict over growing territories is increasing between Mexican Cartels. Each one striving for the financial security that the growing of macadamia nuts provide.
Security Attempts In Macadamia Nut Farming
Legitimate growing operations are suffering as a result of these crimes. Regulation and worker protection is nearly impossible and out of reach. Twenty-four hour guards are necessary for both legal, and illegal growers in order to protect the crops.
Forests are being cut down by illegal growers planning to plant new crops. While fearful guards are held at gunpoint, trees are cut down and the land is then cleared. Even murders in the name of macadamia nut have become a sad truth of the competitive market.
Macadamia Nut Crime in Africa
Mexico isn’t the only place where macadamia nuts have become the object of criminal desire. In Zimbabwe, the macadamia nuts are stolen at gunpoint regularly, leading to serious violence in the region. In South Africa, macadamia nuts are grown and exported internationally, making it very difficult to trace the exact origin. This issue happens with a number of food and natural resources coming out of Africa.
Company Ethical Standards
There are certain companies such as the Kenya Nut Company that are closer to the coast for exportation and sell macadamia nuts worldwide. The Kenya Nut Company purchases the macadamia nuts, but they may not always know the origin of its’ harvesting.
The company gets rave reviews from “Green Spoon” on the company’s transparency. However, they’re not particularly clear on what they are transparent about, and this begs for questioning.
Long term financing by big money investors such as the Proparco Group ensure the Kenya Nut Company has a future. However, where the nuts are sourced from may still be a mystery.
Macadamia tree orchards worldwide have become places of uncertainty. Armed guards continue to watch over macadamia trees and the treasures they hold. Each season, farmers face the burden of fear. The increasing requirement for extra security including more guards and longer hours.
Preventing the violence that comes with the greed will be an ongoing battle. In order to protect the safety of these farmers and crops, different strategies will need to be put into place. Each macadamia nut will need to be traced to their origins.
The rest of 2021 will see macadamia prices stay around the same. That is a very high price per pound when you compare it to historical prices. 2022 and 2023 will only see prices rise. A brand new company will be looking to sell high end macadamias coming out of Mexico or Kenya. Customers want traceability and they want quality. Customers all over America are starting to desire whole and perfectly round macadamias, style 1. Eventually, some company is going to supply these to the high end marketplace.