In a major boost for Mossman, an alternative ingredient for speciality soy sauce will provide a boost for local sugar cane farmers when a food processing facility starts operating next to the Mossman Sugar Mill.

A report, published in the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority, states that a $250,000 grant has been awarded to CocoNutZ Australia, who will commence their demonstration facility on the Mossman Mill site in 2021.

CocoNutZ is a patented agricultural bio-manufacturing platform which seeks to diversify FNQ agriculture through producing a range of condiments using local sugar cane.

“The technology allows for production of Kecap Manis, a sweet soy sauce commonly used in Asian dishes, in Queensland at a lower cost than current market participants, while paying farmers more than a standard mill quality sugar cane.

“The CocoNutZ food facility, to be established alongside the Mossman Sugar Mill, will have the ability to process up to 20,000 tonnes of cane in the first year,” the report says.

Managing director Lucas Van Der Walt said the project would directly support Far North Queensland sugar cane producers, who were previously impacted through lower sugar prices.

“Due to the remoteness of the region and distance to alternative markets, growers have limited obvious alternatives to cane growing. By producing value-added product from cane, crop purchase prices can be raised and guaranteed for a longer term,” Mr Van Der Walt said.

CocoNutZ will replace coconut sugar in the manufacturing of Kecap Manis with its own bio-transformed sugar cane juice through its patented process, which aims to turn sugar cane juice into a natural coconut like sugar product. Demand for Kecap Manis, based on coconut sugar, is growing annually.

Early in 2021 the project will create 12 new jobs including plant operators, laboratory analysists and microbiologists, another six during construction and support a further three indirect jobs during its first phase of operations. During subsequent phases more jobs are likely to be created.

“The community of Mossman has grown around the Mossman Mill over the last 120 years. It employs 90 people during the cane season, and 60 in the off-season, along with being the main customer for many supporting businesses in the area,” Mr Van Der Walt said.

“The CocoNutZ platform has been identified as a key diversifying strategy for the mill and the CocoNutZ food facility will be the first tenant of the planned Daintree Bio Precinct, an advanced manufacturing hub that will be co-located on the Mossman Sugar mill site.”

Meanwhile, Mossman Mill crushing for 2020 was completed on Friday 30 October.

“The total tonnes crushed was 647,983 against the original budget of 701,720. This is 7.7% below estimate which can be attributed to weather conditions over the growing season.

“The dry weather at the back end of the season saw the CCS climb but still rounded out the season at around 12.72 which is approx. 0.4 below budget,” said Bronwyn Dwyer, Chief Executive Officer/Company Secretary, Daintree Bio Precinct Ltd & subsidiary Far Northern Milling Pty Ltd.

Ms Dwyer said that FNM contracted growers, whose cane is being toll crushed at Tableland Mill, are expected to finish around 14 November.

“It is anticipated around 110,000T of FNM contracted cane will be toll crushed through Tableland Mill.”

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