Originally considered ornamental plants, the flowering Macadamia trees have become a valuable crop since they were originally described by John Macadam—after whom they were named—around 1857. The reason for their commercial importance is that two of the nine species of Macadamia produce the most expensive nuts in the world.
While the trees originated in Australia, the first Macadamia plantations were located in Hawaii. Today, Hawaii is still one of the largest sources of Macadamia nuts and the US is their largest consumer. Other sources of Macadamia nuts include South Africa, Central America and Australia—the largest source of the expensive nuts.
The Macadamia nut is prized not only for its rich, buttery flavor but also for its oil. The kernel may consist of up to 80% oil. This oil is useful in cosmetics, particularly in skin care products, because it is a viable alternative to mink oil.
The price of the world’s most expensive nut may be attributed to the fact that not only must a Macadamia tree be 7-10 years old in order to produce nuts, but also the incredibly hard shell of the nut must be broken prior to sale. The shell is so hard that it can actually break nutcrackers sold for home use.
So how much is this costly nut? Macadamia nuts can easily fetch around $30-$40 per kilo (2.2 lbs).
Macadamia Nuts $40 Per Kilo