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

In consultation with industry, AgriFutures Australia has developed a tea tree oil five-year plan for the levy funded program which commenced on 1 July 2017. 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.

Industry Advisory Panel

AgriFutures Australia is committed to working with industry to deliver research and development outcomes. We work in partnership with advisory panels to decide on research priorities and to make investment decisions each year.

There is a statutory levy on tea tree oil.
RD&E Plan

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

  • Improving supply
  • Increasing demand
  • Extension, sustainability and human capital.

About your levy

Australian primary industries that choose to invest in the levies system prescribe the amount of levy or charge applied to a commodity under the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Act 1999Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999, National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Act 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998.

Levy and charge revenue can be directed to biosecurity preparedness and emergency plant pest and animal disease responses, residue testing, marketing and research and development. It is the decision of a primary industry to determine the proportion of how a levy or charge is directed to each of these activities.

AgriFutures Australia receives the Research & Development levy allocation to invest in line with the industry objectives of the Five Year Research & Development Plan. Up to half of program expenditure, including R&D expenditure, is matched by the Australian Government at up to 0.5% of industry GVP. The graphs below represent the levy breakdown and the annual Program investment inclusive of levy, government and any third party contributions.

The Levy is collected and distributed via the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment website.

View the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program income and expenditure for 2018-19 statement.

 *Financials are accurate as at 1 February 2019 and subject to change.

Related Publications


Project Summary: An updated evidence map on applications, efficacy, and safety of tea tree oils


Blockchain Traceability for Tea Tree Oil 1


AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Overview


Final report summary: The Tea Tree Breeding Program II 2017-2019

Related Resources

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AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Industry Update Vol.2 No.1

Meet Julia Voelker PhD candidate, blockchain technology to unlock tea tree oil potential and last call for Advisory Panel applications.

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A Biosecurity Plan for the Tea Tree Industry has been prepared and released by Plant Health Australia

This plan is a framework to coordinate biosecurity activities and investment for Australia’s tea tree industry.

Read more

AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Industry Update Vol.1 No.4

Program updates from our AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.


AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Industry Update Vol.1 No.3

Program updates from our AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.


AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Industry Update Vol.1 No.2

Project updates from our AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.


AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Industry Update Vol.1 No.1

Project updates from our AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.


Latest News and Events


Oils are essential – a new study into the effects of commercial essential oils on the human endocrine system could be a game changer

AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program is funding new research by the University of Queensland (UQ) into the impact of commercial essential oils including tea tree, culinary and medicinal oils on the human endocrine system. This work has potential world-wide implications for many industries including agriculture, medicine and the cosmetics industry.


AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program researcher spotlight: Gail Lowe

As tea tree matures, like other woody plants, it becomes more difficult to propagate through cuttings (also known as vegetatively) as the propagules (new plants) have poor rooting and form, as well as reduced vigour. Gail Lowe, PhD at Southern Cross University, is using her studies to overcome the difficulties of vegetatively propagating from mature tea tree plants.