Far North Queensland canegrower Stephen Calcagno says a bumper season is helping to offset drastically low global raw sugar prices, but it is nowhere near enough to keep the industry sustainable.
“With a global raw sugar price of US10c/lb the cane industry is in survival mode,” Mr Calcagno said.
“To have a sustainable industry we need prices of $400-$420/tonne for raw sugar, about US15c-US17c/lb,” Mr Calcagno said.
“On top of that we have rising input costs and in particular for irrigators, ever rising electricity prices.
“Australia has the most efficient and highly mechanised sugar industry in world. But that efficiency comes with high set costs.
“Growers can try to save around the edges, maybe allow a field an extra ratoon, but ultimately there is little we can do at farm level when India and Pakistan are dumping heavily subsidised sugar on global markets.”
Mr Calcagno, who is also CANEGROWERS’ Cairns region chairman, farms 400ha at Bellenden Kerr with his son Luke. They supply about 34,000/t of cane to MSF Sugar.
“It’s been an excellent growing season,” Mr Calcagno said.
“We are again having a high sugar content year. Last year it was in the mid-12 CCS range, now we even better this harvest with 13.5 CCS.”
CCS (Commercial Cane Sugar) is the measure of how much saleable sugar is in each tonne of cane.
A falling Australian dollar would benefit growers, but it needed to be in the US60c range, he said.
“We work on a 1c drop being worth about $7/t.”