Australian macadamia lovers were treated to a fabulous new product in October last year with the launch of MacFarms Easy Open Macadamias. Made using Australian grown macadamias from Agrimac, the limited edition product made its Australian debut in Coles supermarkets nationally, with Woolworths following suit in December.
Ranged in the fresh produce section, Easy Open Macadamias introduced consumers to the fun and flavour of macadamias roasted, salted and packaged in their shells. A pre-sawn slit on every nut and a unique opening key included in-pack addressed the age-old challenge of cracking the world’s hardest nut. By inserting the key in the slit and levering, the shell gently cracks open to reveal the rich, buttery kernel within.
Jacqui Price, Marketing Manager at parent company Buderim Group, says the innovation has been a big hit. “The feedback from consumers has been really positive,” she said. “Everyone loved the fact that it’s an Australian product and for many, the in-shell format felt fresher. Repeat purchase was very high and we even had some consumers calling us when their local supermarket ran out of stock, desperate to know where they could get more.”
Price admits that initially some consumers were a little unsure about exactly what the product was, but she says the on-pack instructions and online instructional video took care of the familiarisation challenge. “Getting people to adopt the correct action with the key was interesting,” she says. “Many were trying to twist the shell open when in fact it’s more of a levering action that’s needed. There was definitely an educational element required, but as soon as people watched the video, they understood, fell in love with the product and bought it repeatedly.”
The Agrimac team discovered the concept of the Easy Open Macadamia several years ago in China, a market dominated by in-shell consumption. Five years ago they launched the product successfully in Europe, where it has gained a strong following, particularly as a Christmas line in Germany and The Netherlands where families enjoy the festive tradition of cracking nuts open together.
The decision to launch in Australia came about from Price and her team observing their own behaviour. “Whenever we put these on the table at a meeting, everyone would dive in and start cracking them open. They’re so tactile – people love that and it feels really festive. Australians love macadamias and many grew up cracking their own, so we were confident the product would perform well here,” she said.
Social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), print ads and PR spearheaded the promotional campaign for the product’s launch, and according to Price, this generated excellent buzz and awareness. “We received a lot of attention because the product was so different,” she said. “The health angle really captured a lot of magazine editors, particularly in health and wellbeing titles such as Men’s Fitness and Weight Watchers magazine.” Celebrity outreach garnered additional engagement, with highlights including social media posts from high profile chef Matt Golinski and enthusiastic feedback from journalist Tracey Spicer.
A competition invited consumers to “Tell us what lengths you have gone to in an attempt to crack a macadamia nut out of its shell” with hilarious results. “We had people doing the funniest things – one fan placed the macadamia under the leg of a table before sitting hard on the table to crack the nut open”, laughs Price.
Trade support was also critical to the success of the launch. As Price explains, “They really got behind the product, which was fantastic. It was a little different for them so we all learned a lot from this first round.”
The next chapter for Easy Open Macadamias is now unfolding in Canada, where the product has recently launched. “We’re applying the learnings from our Australian experience in Canada. We’ve changed the back of pack for the Canadian market with improved graphics that more clearly explain what the product is and how to use it as well as an enlarged image of the key,” explains Price. Shelf wobblers at point of purchase are also helping to reinforce the on-pack messaging.
So will Australians be seeing MacFarms Easy Open Macadamias on shelf again? Price certainly hopes so. “The repeat purchase of this product was really high, so we know the demand is there. We would definitely like to revisit the Australian market,” she says. In the event that the product does return to Australian supermarket shelves, it may be with a few tweaks. As Price explains, “Next time we do it, we may increase the focus on education. This time we led with health claims but future runs would probably zero in on how easy the product is to enjoy. Overall though, we have been really pleased with how the product has performed. It met our expectations and it’s been great to have something unique on shelf, particularly with MacFarms branding. Hopefully it’s the first of many great achievements for this brand.”
Congratulations to the MacFarms and Agrimac teams on a fantastic first edition of Easy Open Macadamias. Here’s hoping there are more to come!