Annabel Bowles

Tropic Now journalist

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Australia becomes world’s second largest raw sugar exporter


Australia has jumped ahead of Thailand to become the world’s second largest raw sugar exporter, next to Brazil.

Australian growers are expected to harvest 29.5 million tonnes of sugarcane this year, 28 million of which is produced in Queensland.

That crop will produce 4 million tonnes of raw sugar. 85% will be exported, attracting around $1.7 billion.



CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said the industry is buoyed by the news, especially as the harvest has been impacted by a poor wet season.  

“We have definitely had our own challenges going into the 2021 season,” Mr Schembri said.

“While there has been periodic heavy rain, La Nina didn’t deliver the soaking wet season across the regions that we were looking for and the cane crop for 2021 is around 1.5 million tonnes less than the 2020 season.

“Rain gauges tell us that the Burdekin, central, and southern regions, which normally contribute around 60% of Queensland’s total cane tonnage, have had below average rainfall so far this year.

“Bundaberg, Childers and Maryborough remain effectively in drought with irrigation water storages now critically low.

“(But) I think many people in our communities and government, and even cane growers, would be surprised to know we are such an important player in this market, sitting second only to Brazil.”

Brazil exported a huge 27.5 million tonnes of raw sugar last season, while Thai sugar exports are expected to only be around 2.6 million tonnes this year after some key growing regions experienced drought.

The Australian sugar industry has also emerged with a bang from a period of low prices caused by global oversupply.

The price for raw sugar has climbed 42 per cent on last year’s lull, and analysts think it’ll remain strong for a little while yet.