THE Chinese market has been identified as having huge potential for macadamia producers and processors on the Northern Rivers.
Understanding the emerging market was a key topic covered at the year's first Australian Macadamia Society workshop in Lismore.
The society's market development manager, Lynne Ziehlke, spoke about the potential for Chinese export at the workshops, saying in the past 10 years, pistachio, walnut and almond exports had already experienced huge success in China.
It was a trend Ms Ziehlke said would likely continue with macadamias.
"The Northern Rivers represents 50% of production (nationally)," she said.
"So what growers here, and what their processors decide to do, has a significant impact on what will happen over the long term.
"China has become a much more significant market from a global perspective for macadamias in the last few years."
She said 20% of Australian macadamias already went to China, while 31% were sold domestically and the remainder sent to Japan, Europe, the United States and emerging markets in Taiwan and Korea.
Despite the optimistic outlook, Ms Ziehlke said the market did have its risks, with South African exports to China rapidly expanding and an internal push from China to grow the nut domestically.
She said suppliers would have to learn to cater to a market with culturally different requirements.
Macadamia Processing Company supply chain manager Kevin Quinlan was in a three-person group who recently undertook a study tour of China to look at its macadamia industry.
"One thing we did get a sense of is the size of the market that actually exists," he said.
"We believe there's a massive opportunity for growth and consumption of product in China, if it's managed and developed in the right way."