New seasoned macadamia crumb a masterclass in versatility

The launch of a new macadamia product is always exciting, especially when it breaks new ground in terms of flavour and format. A new seasoned macadamia crumb recently did exactly that, while bringing to life a key innovation opportunity that emerged from our industry’s research exploring the emerging trends set to shape the food and beverage landscape over the coming years.

Image: courtesy Gondwana Macadamias

Gondwana Macadamias Seasoned Macadamia Crumb was one of our stand-out macadamia product discoveries of 2023, and it aligned with the innovation territory called ‘savoury swaps’ which highlighted an opportunity to showcase the true versatility of macadamias through inspired upgrades to savoury snacks and products.

The range was developed by Australian macadamia growers and product developers Mel and Ron Caccianiga. They describe macadamias as their ‘favourite thing on the planet’ and they’re passionate about everything they offer, from their health benefits and satiety to their creaminess and crunch.

But the entrepreneurial duo also feel that for too long, macadamias have been put on a pedestal as a luxury to be enjoyed only on occasion. They’re on a mission to change that, believing that food manufacturers should be capitalising on the opportunity to create products that make macadamias a premium, but everyday accessible indulgence.

The magic of Gondwana Seasoned Macadamia Crumb

Mel and Ron entered Australia’s macadamia industry seven years ago, making the transition from regenerative beef cattle farming. While macadamia growing was the centrepiece of their plan, their vision extended beyond the orchard.

“Value adding was always part of the plan,” shares Mel. “But it took ages for us to find a macadamia farm, so it gave us a lot of time to think up different product ideas. We could see that macadamias were the most incredible raw ingredient – nothing else compared. We were determined to make it happen and finally our search paid off when we found the right macadamia farm.”

The Caccianigas now have not one but two macadamia orchards in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region, and a range of macadamia culinary and beauty products called Gondwana Macadamias, with the Gondwana Seasoned Macadamia Crumb quickly gaining a strong following since it launched in August 2023.

Available in five variants, with a sixth coming soon, Gondwana Seasoned Macadamia Crumb is an outstanding example of a premium product formulated using ingredient-style macadamia kernel. Each variant is a unique blend of macadamia pieces, other nuts, seeds and locally sourced botanicals:

Indulge: macadamias and pecans in salted caramel
Decadence: macadamias, sesame seeds, wattle seed and rosella flower
Rainforest: macadamias, pecans, native finger lime, pepper berries, coconut and a hint of ginger
Exotic: macadamias, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios and traditional dukkah herbs and spices
Bush: macadamias, almonds, pistachios, lemon myrtle, pink peppercorns, sesame seeds and spices

The Gondwana Macadamia Seasoned Crumb product range

The result is a range of incredibly versatile macadamia products that can be used to enhance red meat, poultry, pork, fish and other seafood, soups, dips, salads, yoghurt, porridge, ice cream and desserts.

“I wanted to create a range that helped people enjoy macadamias in every meal, every day. It’s perfect for people who love to eat clean, whole foods but are busy and want quick solutions. As a cook I love having little things at my fingertips that can take something from boring to wow, and to me the crumb range is like sprinkling magic over your food whether that’s sweet or savoury,” says Mel.

“It adds visual appeal and texture, and the flavour profile just rolls through your mouth. Take a classic meal like a bowl of pumpkin soup, add some of our Exotic blend on top and it’s so satisfying, you’ll find you don’t even need bread.”

Leveraging the power of ingredient-style kernel

Mel says the crumb range was born from the frustration she felt knowing that smaller macadamia styles were underappreciated and underutilised.

“We know that whole macadamia kernel (style 0 and 1) is always a popular choice for food manufacturers, but as farmers, we can’t grow entire orchards of whole kernel because when they’re cracked, not every nut comes out of its shell intact. Those smaller pieces that form part of every crop are fabulous as an ingredient though, because you don’t necessarily need large pieces or whole kernel to elevate the taste and texture of a product,” she explains.

“The crumb range is a celebration of the smaller ingredient style of macadamia kernel and how that can be used to create a delicious and luxurious product that can be used every day.”

Image: courtesy Gondwana Macadamias

Before marrying Ron and becoming a farmer, Mel was a commercial cook, so food and flavour is a world where she feels right at home.

“When I started playing with ingredient style macadamias the problem became where to stop with flavour development because they’re just so versatile. In fact Ron has placed a short term product development ban on me because I can’t seem to stop experimenting!” she laughs. “But we’re launching our sixth variant soon. It’s called ‘Reef’, and it blends macadamias with lemongrass and saltbush.”

The opportunity for manufacturers

Mel believes there has never been a better time for manufacturers to explore what’s possible with macadamias.

“People love macadamias, that’s the bottom line. They’re increasingly aware of the amazing health benefits macadamias offer, and they want to add them to their diet. As innovators, there is such an opportunity to make it really easy for people to consume them every day,” Mel says.

“It blows my mind the number of ways you can use them. It’s a brilliant time for manufacturers to be brave and have a go at making something with Australian macadamias.”

Rising from adversity to focus firmly on the future

While Mel and Ron have successfully transitioned to macadamia farming and launched an innovative line of products, there’s been heartache along the way.

Mel and Ron Caccianiga in their macadamia orchard

In 2022, the Northern Rivers was hit by the most catastrophic flooding the region had ever experienced. The scale of the destruction was unlike anything witnessed before, and the loss and damage took an enormous toll on everyone affected.

Mel and Ron had just finished planting 10,000 macadamia trees when the floods hit, most of which did not survive. It was a devastating loss, but the couple refused to let it crush their plans, and the launch of the Gondwana product line is even more impressive against this extremely challenging backdrop.

“We lost 8,000 trees so we’ve had to dedicate a lot of time to rebuilding our flood-affected orchard. It’s been very hard, but we should get our first harvest from that orchard later this year, so the recovery is well underway,” shares Mel.

This means the couple is well positioned to focus on the next stage of growth for their product line.

“We’re looking at creating a larger full-time production space to help us scale, and we’re sourcing local ingredient suppliers who are as passionate about regenerative agriculture and sustainability as we are. We also want to expand our distribution by growing our network of local stockists and exploring export opportunities.”

After a very challenging few years the future looks bright for Gondwana Macadamias. We look forward to watching the next chapter unfold.

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