Bring agribusiness back from the brink
Queensland Sugar Ltd chairman ALAN WINNEY spells out the case for Australia retaining ownership of remaining sugar industry assets
Alan Winney increasingly supply food for the north.
World population is expected to number 9.5 billion in 2050 and Asia is adding 65 million people a year.
Asia is seeking food and energy resources now and Australia is a preferred location.
This appears to suggest Australia is in the box seat, but we could give away our tickets to the game without realising.
Our industry is not just about s u g a r ; i t i s a b o u t e t h a n o l , cogeneration and other products.
Sugar and oil companies are linking and multi-commodity agribusinesses, such as Sucrogen buyer Wilmar and China’s Bright Foods, are moving into the sugar space.
Thailand’s Mitr Phol has 20 per cent of Maryborough Sugar; global player Bunge has bid for Tully.
Mills are consolidating and revenues to cane growers could erode as global companies seek cheapest supply.
Representative bodies may evolve or disappear; there will be reduced premium or branding for Queensland sugar and a real risk of reduced investment in research and development. The key questions are: • What sort of industry do we want in 25 years?
• Who do we want to benefit from growing global demand?
• Who do we want to control and shape the sector?
It is timely and appropriate to work wit h g o v e r nment a nd others to establish overseas investment ground rules before we realise Australia’s agribusiness assets were sold while no one was watching.
I believe ground rules should include commitments to:
• Transparent pricing to growers, independent verification of the grower-miller margin-split, some ongoing pricing certainty.
• Continued investment in Australia-based research and development.
• Unfettered access to essential infrastructure.
• Invest in and grow Australia’s production base and its valueadding sector.