The AgriFutures Australia Tea Tree Oil Program aims to conduct RD&E that contributes to the profitability, sustainability and productivity of this emerging industry.

AgriFutures Australia is liaising with industry to develop a Tea Tree Oil five-year plan and levy funded program which is expected to commence in 2018. The program will invest in research focused on tea tree breeding, processing and market access.

Key components of the program

The program invests in research to develop the industry in growing tea tree, processing and overcoming post farm gate market access barriers in accordance with a five-year planning process.

About the industry

Tea tree oil is extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia grown in plantations and distilled via steam injection. Tea tree oil has a range of uses, can be found in cosmetics, personal health care and animal care products, and is recognised by consumers and manufacturers for its effectiveness.

Tea tree is tolerant of coastal acid sulphate soils and can be grown on inland cropping country. Most plantations are located in the coastal region of northern NSW and the Atherton Tablelands of Queensland.

Our investment in the tea tree breeding program over the past 25 years has resulted in the near doubling of plantation yield. These investments have also delivered efficiencies in harvesting, distillation, storage and marketable oil benefits.

Key challenges for the Australian tea tree oil industry is to continue to improve profitability and increase demand. Reducing costs of production is also important to maintaining Australia’s competitive advantage. As price increases and demand continue to grow, new plantings in China have potential to impact on commercial competitiveness of Australian-grown oil.


There is a statutory levy on tea tree oil.

R&D Plan

To assist the industry to meet its challenges, the current objectives for the Tea Tree Oil Program include:

  • market access through regulatory response, product efficacy and safety research
  • production systems that lower cost and increase productivity, including the tea tree breeding program
  • proof of concept innovation uses for tea tree oil
  • communication and industry capacity building

Duncan Farquhar
Program Manager, Research & Innovation
02 6923 6912
0429 495 499

Australian Tea Tree Industry Association
UWA Tea Tree Oil Research Group

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