Richmond River Canegrowers Association president Wayne Rodgers with some of this year’s bumper crop.
Richmond River Canegrowers Association president Wayne Rodgers with some of this year’s bumper crop.

Sugar prices won't break budget

RECENT hysteria about runaway retail sugar prices is nothing more than a storm in a sugar bowl according to local growers.

While price windfalls will bring some welcome relief to growers, Richmond River Canegrowers Association president Wayne Rodgers had to chuckle when asked about the current sugar ‘boom’.

“Really, it all comes out in the wash – what you pick up on the swings you lose on the roundabouts,” he said.

Mr Rodgers explained that while the cane industry is experiencing a 30-year price high following a worldwide production slump and strong consumption growth, it follows years of low prices and crop losses through drought, flood and disease.

“Prices are good and we are expecting a 700,000 tonne yield at the Broadwater mill this year, but that is down on our potential,” he said.

“We have peaked at 1.1 million tonnes in previous years.

“Growers are getting an increase price on previous years but we needed that to compensate for bad weather and low prices in recent years.

“We’ve also had to cope with record fertiliser and fuel prices over the past five years.”

Cane growers will use the income from this peak in prices to upgrade machinery and farm practices.

“Most growers have let their capital equipment run down so this in an opportunity for us to catch up.”

Queensland Canegrowers CEO Ian Ballantyne agreed.

“Growers need to shore themselves up for the times when the price again drops,” he said.

He added the rises would have very little impact on Australian shoppers’ hip pocket.

“Even at today’s increased prices, the average Australian consumes only around $25 worth of raw sugar per year,” he said.

“This rise in raw sugar prices, passed through to the retail refined product should cost the average consumer little more than $2 per year or less than five cents per week.”

Raw sugar sales are likely to be close to $2.5 billion this year with over 70 per cent coming from exports.



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