HISTORY OF THE MACADAMIA NUT
|John Macadam, Esquire, M.D. (1827 - 1865) A young Scots immigrant scientist, philosopher, and politician who accomplished much in his few years in Australia.|
The macadamia is originally from Australia. The macadamia was classified and named by Baron Sir Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von Mueller, Director for the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and later an internationally acclaimed fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Walter Hill, first super intendant of the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane. It is named in honor of Mueller's good friend, Dr. John Macadam, a noted lecturer in practical and theoretical chemistry at the University of Melbourne, civil servant, and a member of Parliament.
|William H. Purvis (1858 - 1952) This rabid plant collector was only 23 when he first introduced the macadamia to Hawaii.|
William H. Purvis, a sugar plantation manager on the Big Island, first introduced the macadamia to Hawaii in 1882. Purvis visited Australia where he was so taken by the beauty of the macadamia tree he decided to bring the seeds to Hawaii (one of the original Purvis macadamia trees still grows at Kapulena, Hawaii, more than a century later).
For some 40 years after Purvis imported the macadamia, the trees were grown primarily as ornamentals.
In 1921, a Massachusetts man named Ernest Shelton Van Tassell began the first macadamia plantation on government land near Honolulu. The early attempts met with failure since seedlings from the same parent would often produce nuts of widely varying yield and quality. this led to 20 years of research by the University of Hawaii.
Macadamia nuts were marketed in the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1950s, when larger corporations entered the industry, that production became substantial. The first major investor was Castle & Cooke - the Dole Pineapple Co. Soon after, the oldest company in Hawaii, C. Brewer and Company Ltd., began their investment in macadamia nuts. Eventually C. Brewer bought Castle & Cooke's macadamia operations and began marketing its nuts under the Mauna Loa brand in 1976. Since then, Mauna Loa's macadamia nuts have continued to grow and prosper.
In the 1970s, the Hawaii industry comprised almost 97% of the world supply of macadamias. Global interest in macadamia grew in the mid 1970s as growers sought new agricultural products of high value for tropical and sub-tropical environments. As demand for the product grew, Hawaii, with its research and commercial expertise, began to export its knowledge and proven cultivars off shore through the 1980s. Suitable lands for macadamia expansion were not available in Hawaii during the 1970s and 1980s and outside sources of macadamia kernels were needed for the expanding market. C. Brewer and Co. established a macadamia operation in Guatemala in the 1970s. Australia, South Africa, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Costa Rica and Brazil aggressively planted new areas in the 1980s and 1990s. This expansion of new macadamia orchards has not subsided. Today, approximately 90% of the trees planted throughout the globe are Hawaiian cultivars that were evaluated and selected for commercial planting by the University of Hawaii and Australia is now the leader for macadamia research and production in the world.
Global production of macadamia nuts has grown steadily since the 1970s and world supply is estimated to be about 55 million kernel pounds. Australia is now the largest producer of macadamias, accounting for 37% of global production, while Hawaii produces about 22%. South Africa, Malawi and Kenya account for about 31% of supply and the remaining 10% are grown in Latin America.