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.

Program news


Gae Plunkett
Manager, Research
02 6923 6915
0490 091 856

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.

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 and Water Resources. For more information, visit the DAWR website.

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

Related Publications


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


Fact sheet: Tea tree oil industry - 25 years


Tea Tree Oil Program RD&E Plan 2018–2022


Tea tree – causes and management options for stump death or dieback project summary

Related Resources

Search regions suitable for tea tree oil

Search now

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


Breeding program matching oil quality with market demand

The future viability and profitability of the Australian tea tree industry is being advanced by a $1.6 million industry agreement to support a breeding program based at Southern Cross University in Lismore.


Applications Open: AgriFutures™ Tea Tree Oil Program Advisory Panel

AgriFutures Australia is seeking applications from individuals with an agricultural research/science background and a passion for/interest in research, development and extension (RD&E), for the AgriFutures™ Tea Tree Oil Program Advisory Panel.