Pure Australian tea tree oil is an essential oil distilled from plantations of Melaleuca alternifolia and can be used in cosmetics, health care and home care products.

The AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program aims to improve the productivity and sustainability of the Australian tea tree oil industry through research, development and extension (RD&E) projects that reduce barriers in the market and improve production systems with the development and adoption of new varieties and improved agronomic practices.

About the Program

The AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program is focused on the development of a prosperous Australian tea tree oil industry with sustainable pricing and production in long term balance with supply. Other priorities include defensibility against foreign and adulterated products, long term sustainability of production, and the identification and management of regulatory risks.

Key components of the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program are to improve supply, increase demand and to provide effective extension of RD&E outputs.

RD&E Plan

AgriFutures Strategic RD&E Plans guide the Program’s investments. Developed in consultation with industry, the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program RD&E Plan 2018 to 2022 includes three key objectives.

  1. Improving supply of Australian tea tree oil through investigation of higher yielding varieties, agronomic advances, reduction in input costs and better adoption of RD&E outputs
  2. Increasing demand through the development of innovative uses for Australian tea tree oil, particularly agricultural and cosmetic applications, and ensuring market access.
  3. Focus on extension, industry sustainability and building human capital.

RD&E investments are guided by the Tea Tree Oil Advisory Panel.

Australia’s tea tree oil 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, home and industrial and animal care products, and is recognised by consumers and manufacturers for its anti-microbial effectiveness.

Tea tree is tolerant of coastal acid sulphate soils and most plantations are located in the coastal region of northern NSW and the Atherton Tablelands of Queensland.

AgriFutures Australia’s 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. In 2017 Australia’s tea tree oil industry emerged as a mature industry and became a levy paying program.

Key challenges for the Australian tea tree oil industry are to continue to improve profitability, reduce costs of production and increase demand. Traceability and quality assurance of the clean, green pure Australian product is also important to maintaining Australia’s competitive advantage. As price increases and demand continue to grow, new plantings in other regions of the world and the availability of cheap adulterated product have potential to impact on the commercial competitiveness of Australian-grown oil.


Industry Advisory Panel

AgriFutures Australia is committed to working with the levied industries we serve to deliver research and development outcomes to grow the long-term prosperity of these industries. We work closely with Advisory Panels in our larger levied industries to identify research priorities and make Program investments.

  1. Advising on the industry requirements for RD&E through the development and monitoring of RD&E Plans.
  2. Identifying and prioritising RD&E opportunities and activities to address industry issues and the priorities described in the Programs’ Strategic RD&E Plan.
  3. Providing feedback and investment recommendations on RD&E proposals submitted to AgriFutures. The Advisory Panel must ensure the proposal is aligned to the priorities in the Program’s Strategic RD&E Plan before making a recommendation.
  4. Advising on, and assisting in, the dissemination, adoption and commercialisation of the results of RD&E activities.

Industry Advisory Panels are representative of the RD&E programs implemented by AgriFutures Australia. Panel members are selected on a skills-basis and may contribute with capacities in strategic management, governance, industry-specific knowledge, science, technology, leadership and ethics. AgriFutures Australia encourages diversity through age, gender and geographic location, working with specific industry sectors to foster leadership skills to support succession planning for future panel members.

Members of AgriFutures Australia’s Advisory Panels are selected following a public recruitment process which involves a competitive skills-based assessment and/or consultation with key industry bodies and stakeholders.

Members of AgriFutures Australia’s Advisory Panels are selected following a public recruitment process which involves a competitive skills-based assessment and/or consultation with key industry bodies and stakeholders.


Ellen Buckle

Senior Manager, Levied Industries


Industry Association

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.

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

AgriFutures Australia also receives Commonwealth matching funding based on 0.5% of the aggregate GVP of all AgriFutures Australia’s levied industries (Arena 3) or half of AgriFutures Australia’s eligible expenditure – whichever is the lesser. This includes expenditure in non-levied industries Arenas 1, 2 and 4 irrespective of their funding source.

AgriFutures Australia’s Board allocates the Commonwealth matching funding to each levied industry program. The respective programs will receive 50c per dollar of eligible expenditure (subject to availability of Commonwealth matching funding).

The total program budget comprises of the R&D levy allocation, Commonwealth matching funding (allocated by the AgriFutures Australia Board) and third party contributions (where appropriate). The graphs below represent the levy breakdown and the annual Program investment.

View the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program income and expenditure for 2020-21 statement.

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