The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative, which is a 50% stakeholder in the Sunshine Sugar business, held its 44th Annual General Meeting for members last Friday.
Good news for cane growers is that the Sunshine Sugar business continues to operate profitably, with the Refinery delivering valuable returns.
A return to higher sugar prices globally has also helped deliver strong pricing for refined sugar domestically.
Two of the industry’s long-standing ambassadors have announced their retirement. Outgoing Chairman, Mr Jim Sneesby has stepped down in order to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.
Jim has been an active and influential member of the NSW and Richmond River cane growing communities all his life with he and his family making a significant impact on the shaping of the industry as it stands today.
New to the Board representing the Richmond Rive is Mr Stephen Wagner. Stephen joins the Board as both a cane grower and former lead Engineer at Broadwater Mill.
Mr Alan Munro, Board Director and Clarence canegrower, has also decided to step down from the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative Board. Having served on the Board for over 30 years, Alan is handing over the reins to Mr Evan Lewis.
Evan joins the Board with a wealth of experience in both cane farming and local small business.
Other news from the AGM included an update on the current crushing season, which has been one of the most challenging on record.
Following a late start due to flooding and ongoing processing issues due to flood-damaged sugarcane, all mills are now operating on a continuous crushing basis.
To date, the Harwood Mill has crushed over 360k tonnes with some 160k tonnes yet to be harvested. This will see harvesting continue into the new year.
Condong Mill has crushed more than 330k tonnes and will continue to operate as it processes Tweed sugarcane as well as cane from the Richmond area and Rocky Point to assist in getting those crops crushed following late starts.
Broadwater Mill has been crushing since mid-September and is coping well given the flood-damaged and deteriorating sugarcane it is processing.
It has already crushed over 250k tonnes and will continue to crush until the remaining forecast crop of 246k tonnes is completed.
Growers can expect exceptional pricing for their cane this year and into the next 12-to-24-month period.
The NSW cane price is around $43 per tonne for the current season and is expected to jump to between $43 and $47 next year.
This will not only help those growers recovering from crop losses in the March 2022 flooding but is seeing some former and new areas being planted to sugarcane.
A strong raw and refined sugar market is also supporting improved pricing in the food and beverage manufacturing market.
Sunshine Sugar Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Connors said; “Our customers see us as a reliable supplier of good quality sugar and are demonstrating a willingness to pay higher prices to secure supply. This is not only good news for the profitability of our growers and the Sunshine Sugar business, but it means that money stays in the Australian economy given our 100% Australian grown, made and owned model.”
The next couple of years will continue to be a recovery process for the NSW sugar industry as crops are replanted and infrastructure rebuilt.
With over 150 years’ experience, this is one industry that knows how to survive and thrive the ups and downs of agriculture and mother nature.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 23 November 2022.