Sugar high amid price slump

Wilmar crush reached half-way point


Agribusiness
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Sugar content remains high halfway through the crushing season in North Queensland.

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Herbert River Canegrowers Chair Michael Pisano.

Herbert River Canegrowers Chair Michael Pisano.

NORTH Queensland sugar crush has reached the half-way mark, with Wilmar’s eight mills having crushed over 8 million tonnes.

And despite tough conditions with flooding in the Herbert River region earlier this year, the sugar content remains high, providing a boost for growers amid a slump in world sugar prices.

Herbert River Canegrowers Chair Michael Pisano said growers in his region were pleased with how the season was going so far.

“The crop is cutting above our estimate, which is really surprising considering the season with the flooding earlier on,” Mr Pisano said.

“It’s been dry but sugar levels are very high, so we’re getting some good sugar at the moment which is a real help.

“A bit of rain would be nice, so far the crop is holding and sugar levels are very good, so we will see what happens from now on.”

Mr Pisano said the low sugar price was impacting on the morale of growers across the district.

“The price is impacting on growers, the spot price is below the price of production and that’s not sustainable. 

“We can’t go for very long at these sort of price levels.”

Mr Pisano said Canegrowers and Australia Sugar Milling Council were lobbying to get the situation in India and Pakistan, which had lead to oversupply on the global market, pushing the price down, addressed on a world trade level.

However, he expected the price would remain low for the foreseeable future.

“There is a surplus and forecasters are saying there will still be a surplus next year, although it will be smaller.

“These things happen in cycles, and we’re about two years into a cycle. We’re being told to expect these prices to hold for a bit longer yet before we see a turn around, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Wilmar General Manager Cane Supply and Grower Relations Paul Giordani said they passed the half-way mark of the 2018 crush last week, with 8.06 million tonnes crushed.

That was 51 per cent of the estimated 15.66 million tonne crop. 

“Continuing dry conditions are underpinning high CCS levels, with most regions tracking up to one unit above budget,” Mr Giordani said.

“While the fine weather is enabling the harvesting sector to make excellent progress, all regions would benefit from some in-season rain.”

At the end of August, 2.25 million tonnes had been crushed in the Herbert area, which was 47 per cent of their projected 4.81 million tonnes.

Burdekin mills throughput remain ahead of forecast, with 4.25 million tonnes crushed, 53 per cent of their expected 8.04 million tonnes.

At Proserpine, 930,000 tonnes had been crushed, representing 56 per cent of their forecast 1.66 million tonnes, while at Plane Creek 630,000 tonnes had been crushed, or 55 per cent of their projected 1.15 million tonnes.

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