SunRice to make 36 redundant as drought takes its toll on harvest

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 18th March 2009

Ricegrowers Ltd, which trades as SunRice and is one of the world’s largest branded rice companies, has been forced to “downscale” operations as a result of the impact of the drought on their harvest.

The actions of the company to cope with the expected low 2009 crop of around 75,000 tonnes were today passed onto employees and shareholders of the company. The company has the capacity to handle 1.2 million tonnes each year and this year’s shortfall comes after last year’s dismal 19,000 tonne harvest – the lowest in the industry’s history since 1928.

Unlike last year, however, the company has no surplus rice stock to supplement their operations.

“In response to this, SunRice will undertake a small downscale of the Company’s operations in Leeton and consolidate roles and reporting structures across the business,” the company told shareholders. “SunRice remains committed to our regional ricegrowing communities and will up-scale operations again once the drought has broken and rice harvests return to normal levels. As such, the Deniliquin and Coleambally mills will remain under our ‘care and maintenance’ program to allow them to be reopened in a short timeframe when needed.”

SunRice reported that they would regrettably have to make 36 employees redundant, but remained confident that the company would prosper in coming years.

“The SunRice business fundamentals remain sound, with a strong focus on brands, global trading and complementary businesses,” they said. “We will continue to expand those areas of the business that are not directly affected by the Australian rice shortage to ensure we remain in a strong position to upscale and reinvest in the Riverina region when the drought breaks.”