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.


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 receives the Research & Development levy allocation to invest in line with the industry objectives of the Strategic RD&E Plan. AgriFutures Australia also receives matching funding from the Australian Government, allocated to the Program at 50c per dollar of the program’s eligible expenditure.

View the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program income and expenditure for 2019-20 statement.

Related Publications


Final report summary: Sustainable invertebrate pest and disease management in tea tree


Scoping study of sustainable weed management in tea tree oil plantations: Review of Literature


Communication of Research Findings to Tea Tree Oil Industry Levy Payers


Final Report Summary: Block Chain Traceability for Tea Tree Oil - Part 2

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.

Read more

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


Looking for a challenge? AgriFutures Australia is seeking applications for the Tea Tree Oil Advisory Panel

Are you a “Next gen” leader currently working in Australian agriculture and looking to expand your industry focus and knowledge? Or someone with a skillset in marketing,  communications and extension, formulation chemistry or manufacturing that can be applied to a range of rural industries? AgriFutures Advisory Panel Chair Michael Flanagan wants you to consider applying for a position on the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Advisory Panel. Applications are now open and close on Tuesday, 27 April 2021.


Applications now open for AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program Advisory Panel

AgriFutures Australia is seeking to broaden the skillset of its Tea Tree Oil Program Advisory Panel by appointing two new members. Applicants with skills in communications and extension (strategy and implementation), formulation chemistry (in personal care, cosmetic, home care or over-the-counter products), manufacture, marketing, and promotion of Tea Tree Oil products are highly desirable. Individuals with agricultural experience in Tea Tree Oil production as well as other agricultural systems, are also encouraged to apply. Overall, AgriFutures Australia is seeking individuals with an interest in contributing to the profitability and sustainability of the Tea Tree Oil industry.