Foreign investors targeting Australia’s lucrative sugar industry

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th September 2011

Foreign investors continue to target Australia’s lucrative sugar industry, as Chinese-owned Tully Sugar Limited vies with Singapore-based conglomerate Sucrogen to purchase Queensland’s Proserpine Co-operative Sugar Milling Association Limited (PCSMA).

The PCSMA, a co-operative sugar mill that is wholly-owned by 214 sugarcane suppliers, is Australia’s fifth-largest raw sugar mill. Tully Sugar Limited, which is owned by the China Oil and Food Company (COFC), already produces raw sugar for export through the Tully Mill, one of the largest sugar mills in Australia, which is also located in North Queensland.

Sucrogen currently owns and operates seven sugar mills in North and Central Queensland, producing almost half of Australia’s total raw sugar supply. Sucrogen was purchased by Singapore-based Wilmar International in July 2010 from major Australian industrial company CSR Sugar.

Queensland has become the hotbed for foreign investors of Australia’s sugar industry.

Bright Foods Company, a state-owned company of China, has also reportedly been looking to invest in Queensland’s sugar industry. According to reports, the company’s Chairman, Wang Zongnan, stated at a meeting in Sydney on 31 August 2011 that Australia is “full of opportunities” for Bright Foods Company.

More that 80% of all sugar produced in Australia is exported as bulk raw sugar, making Australia the second largest raw sugar exporter in the world. According to latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), in 2009-2010 Australia produced 4,519 kilotonnes of sugar, or which 3, 249 kilotonnes was exported. It is the second largest exporter of raw sugar after Brazil.

In July 2011, Australian Food News reported on lower sugar production rates expected in Brazil over the coming year, influencing a rise in global sugar prices.