Queensland’s sugarcane industry thrives despite global challenges | North Queensland Register

Queensland’s sugar industry generated an economic boost of $3.8 billion in 2020-21 and supported nearly 20,000 direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs.

A new economic report has highlighted the resilience of Queensland’s sugar industry to the combined impacts of COVID-19, low global sugar prices, international market distortions and adverse weather events.

The report was commissioned by the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) and showed that the industry’s economic contribution to the state has remained stable despite the challenges.

The industry provided an economic boost of $3.8 billion in 2020-21 and supported nearly 20,000 direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs.

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ASMC chief executive Rachele Sheard said the report revealed that in 2020/21 Queensland sugar mills spent a total of $2.3 billion on cane, factory worker wages factory, factory inputs and government charges and taxes.

“When the economic multiplier is added, the $2.3 billion spent by Queensland factories has enabled the Queensland sugar industry to contribute $3.8 billion or the equivalent of over $10 million each day,” she said.

Burdekin Regional Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said her community is deeply connected to the industry.

“The Burdekin region is the sugar cane capital of Australia,” said Mayor McLaughlin.

“A solid prospect in the sugar industry is positive for the future of our region. It is positive financially, but also mentally, where we are very aware of the mental stress and the effect on farmers.

“With good sugar prospects, farmers benefit, but also the wider community through businesses, around the mills, and families who may have seasonal work.

“Everyone is impacted by the sugar industry in Burdekin County in one way or another.”

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said the sugar industry underpins a significant portion of his community’s regional gross domestic product (GDP).

“Despite covid, we’ve had some really great years,” Mayor Williamson said.

“In fact, I would say last year in particular was one of the best in terms of regional GDP, because we saw the resource sector doing very well.

“Sugar had two of the most profitable years. We have had excellent growing and harvesting seasons for sugar cane.

Mayor Williamson said the sugar industry has significant economic history and benefits in the local area.

“Sugar has been the mainstay of the Mackay region since about 1866,” he said.

“It’s great to see another two years under our belt, which really shows how important this industry is to our region.”

Rachele Sheard, CEO of the Australian Sugar Milling Council.  Photo provided.

Rachele Sheard, CEO of the Australian Sugar Milling Council. Photo provided.

The report says annual sugar mill spending in 2020-21 was nearly identical to that of 2017-18, when the analysis was last conducted, and average global sugar prices were higher.

“Queensland’s sugar industry has once again given the Queensland region a boost when it needed it most. This resilience is a tribute and proof of our commitment to our industry throughout the supply chain – from our sugar cane growers, mills’ workforce and support industries,” Ms. Sheard said.

“The industry has a bright future and we look forward to continued support from communities and governments to further increase our economic contribution.”

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