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CHINA AS A KEY GROWTH AREA

The World Macadamia Organisation (WMO) is focused on promoting macadamias globally to help consumers understand the benefits of macadamias as a food choice, and to stimulate growth in existing and untapped markets. One of our key areas for growth is China. 

Following the launch of the World Macadamia Organisation (WMO), a number of exciting projects have begun. As a demand generation agency, the first of these projects has been a deep focus on China, and growing frequency of consumption in this valued growth market. 

China is an extremely important market to all WMO member countries, with an estimated market size of 47,000 Metric tonnes, nut-in-shell, at 3.5% moisture in 2020. However, per capita consumption is currently very low, reported by the INC as 8g per person using 2019 data. It is estimated by the INC that 10.7% of the population consume macadamias, so just looking at those who consume them they have on average about 75g per year – or two handfuls. 

 














SOURCE: AMS, year end May 2021

With low consumption rates and a predominance of the nut-in-shell format, there is an exciting opportunity to increase overall consumption as well as introducing other forms of the macadamia nut to Chinese consumers. The WMO is focused on promoting macadamias as a food choice or a “category”, and doesn’t favour any brand or country of origin.  

So how are these goals achieved? We started with deciding that our first priority is to increase the frequency of consumption - encouraging those who already buy and enjoy macadamias, to buy and enjoy them more often.  A key objective is to drive the “routinisation” of macadamias in consumers’ lives, and support key consumer demographics to build macadamias into their food rituals. This may be in snacking formats, but also in other foods including macadamia-based dairy alternatives.

The WMO is undertaking market research to understand the cultural context and gain insight into how consumers speak about, think about and engage with macadamias. This will help to inform how marketing and demand generation activities are positioned as we move forward. 

In China, consumers tend to listen to fellow consumers or influencers more than food manufacturers, and sometimes more than health care professionals.  The prevalence of social media platforms and e-commerce shopping provide many forums for consumers to share their experiences and views.  

Health and nutrition factors are an incredibly important part of food selection in China, and there may be a greater opportunity over time to strongly associate macadamias with specific health and lifestyle benefits, and to develop and drive preference and premiums.

Initial WMO activity in China will come to life on one or several of the country’s many e-commerce platforms.  Being present in the purchasing environment is a good way to deliver category messaging, at a time when consumers are actively considering new food choices. This activity will take place in the first quarter of 2022, and will continue in the following months to maintain an ongoing presence. 

Jillian Laing, the CEO of the WMO says “I have been asked by a few people, “why China?” as an initial focus for the WMO. The answer really is three-fold: there’s real potential for growth, there is an opportunity to introduce new macadamia origins, and we can build a stronger consumer connection over time. Ultimately, if there is good sell-through at the end of the season, it will set up the next season for success.”

Having lived in China and marketed food brands on two occasions, in biscuits and snack foods, and then in dairy, Jillian has first-hand knowledge and experience of how important it is to gauge and connect with true consumer insights. 

In late September 2021, the WMO was asked to speak at the China Tree Nuts Conference, with experts from a range of nut producing countries sharing their knowledge and experience with the industry delegates.  This was a fantastic opportunity to introduce the WMO to the China tree nut industry, to grow awareness of the organisation and its intentions. China is a significant producer of macadamias, and has a lot of new plantings. To ensure strong global representation, the WMO would like China to become a member of the organisation and is having ongoing conversations about this.  

For WMO members, the insights learned, campaign activity and campaign results will be shared, to ensure members can access these resources and learnings and use them their own activities and business plans. 

By supporting the WMO, members are supporting the future of the industry, and by coming together as an industry, this unique marketing resource can be leveraged for everyone’s benefit. 

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