October 2020: Best in class food safety pasteurisation equipment has arrived in South Africa, following macadamia processing business Green Farms Nut Company’s (GFNC) announcement in February to invest in the Swiss-engineered Napasol (the second generation of its kind) technology.

“A first for South Africa, this scale of strategic commitment holds long term vision, paying dividends to farmers in securing future market access for macadamias. It underpins confidence in sector growth and the South African agricultural industry more broadly.”

“Five of the expected seven containers are in port in South Africa, with the remaining two to arrive this month. A new building (at the factory in White River, Mpumalanga) to support this infrastructure is ready for planned instalment and testing,” says Allen Duncan, CEO, GFNC.

Previously, the probability of harm to human pathogen transmission through nuts has been poorly understood and underestimated. Awareness of this risk has grown together, incidentally, with rising consumption of nuts.

Although pasteurisation is not new, it is, however, significant within the context of macadamias (and their future commercial viability). Additionally, the Napasol is custom built and its process is unique and entirely chemical-free.   

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has ramped efforts to clamp down on products entering the country. It mandates that all almonds consumed in the U.S be pasteurised. European regulatory bodies will follow suit.

Collectively, these geographies speak for 80% of SA’s kernel (45% is exported to the US, with 35% going to Europe).  

MARKET INSIGHT:

“We need to pay heed to this call from regulatory bodies, the market and customers to avoid stifling the macadamia trade. Powerful lobby and food supply chain complexity means that not doing so will inevitably close core markets,” comments Alex Whyte, sales manager EMEA, Green & Gold Macadamias (exclusive marketer for GFNC).  

The geographical markets of the U.S and Europe are invested in longevity, relationships, and trust. They pay a premium for quality, reliability, and assurance. Product recalls are expensive, cause significant damage to reputation, and impact through the value chain from customer to retailer back to the farmer.

“The ingredients segment is a huge vertical growth market for macadamias. It is anticipated to play an integral role in long-term stability by absorbing the growing product supply. Food manufacturers will not accept an unpasteurised product, this is a huge barrier to product development,” continues Whyte.  

WHAT IT MEANS FOR FARMERS:

Commercial farming success is materially linked to market demand, without consumption the industry will cease to exist. Responding to legislative, food safety protocol, and consumer need secures security and access. This means achieving sustainable prices back on the farm.

HOW IT WORKS:

Saturated steam is applied to kernels in a partial vacuum at low temperatures, a method that has proven to be most effective at killing Salmonella and other pathogens, at a *Log 5 reduction. The operation does not wet the nuts and drying is not necessary, translating to additional water and electricity savings. 

The product moves through a fully automated system in bins through to packaging. Remarkably reducing nut damage and contamination. The raw quality of the macadamia kernel is protected, and shelf-life is improved.

SIGNIFICANCE OF AN AFRICA FIRST:  

Foremost this technology places South Africa, already the world’s largest producer of macadamias, firmly on the world stage of being a reliable quality producer. Branding South Africa’s macadamias as premium and deserving of the best prices.

“Signalling confidence in the domestic industry, boosting infrastructure and private sector investment into the country. It ensures a direct line to customers and maximises profit back to farmers,” concludes Duncan.

In its support to the industry, GFNC will offer a service to toll pasteurise for other macadamia businesses.