Sandalwood nuts needed to meet demand

Zach RelphCountryman
Santaleuca Sandalwood Products owners Michelle and Steve Fry, of Narembeen.
Camera IconSantaleuca Sandalwood Products owners Michelle and Steve Fry, of Narembeen. Credit: Danella Bevis

A niche Wheatbelt nut processor is calling on farmers and pastoralists with sandalwood plantations to supply nuts to the developing food industry.

Santaleuca Sandalwood Products owner Steve Fry, who is based in Narembeen, needs up to six tonnes of sandalwood nuts to meet increased demand for the superfood.

Mr Fry has only secured about two tonnes from his suppliers this season, with the State’s persistent dry conditions impeding sandalwood-nut growth.

“We aren’t sure where the tonnage will come from this year,” he said.

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“Our suppliers will be able to get us about two tonnes, but we will still be about four tonnes short ... our requirements are skyrocketing.

“The past two years have been very dry and sandalwood seeds need a good weather to flower and pollinate.”

Mr Fry and wife Michelle planted their sandalwood 15 years ago as a “retirement fund”, with the slow-growing plantations widely grown as a timber resource.

In 2012, the couple opted to develop Santaleuca Sandalwood Products to process the nut — which they didn’t want to waste — for the edible nut market.

Mr Fry said the niche industry needed more sandalwood nut suppliers to meet growing demand.

“We know the plantation size in WA is large enough to support a bigger industry,” he said.

“We just have to convince more people to get involved in the supply side.”

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