Grower concern rises in wake of Sugar Terminal Limited announcement
8 February 2023
Last month’s announcement by Sugar Terminals Limited (“STL”) that the company will be insourcing its sugar terminal operations has left cane grower groups outraged as they demand more clarity from the corporate sugar giant as to what the future will hold for sugar growers.
STL, which owns six sugar export terminals along Queensland’s east coast will dismiss the not-for-profit Queensland Sugar Limited (“QSL”) from operating the terminals at Cairns, Mourilyan, Lucinda, Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg in June 2026, ending a 20-year relationship between the two companies.
The reason behind the controversial decision was cited by STL to ‘remove a clear conflict of interest’ as well as being able to ‘reduce costs’ and ‘drive great efficiencies’, a statement that Katter’s Australian Party Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said was contradictory.
“What I am hearing from cane growers, is concern about what the future will hold for them once QSL is removed from the terminals and from what I can see, their concerns are warranted,” he said.
“On the face of it, STL is a company where the substantial shareholders are all millers including Wilmar, MSF Sugar Ltd and Mackay Sugar Limited.
“As a grower I would be deeply concerned about the vested interest those shareholders have in operational decisions of STL, namely what and whose sugar will pass through the terminals.
“To cite a conflict of interest with QSL flies in the face of STL’s shareholder structure and people can’t be blamed for being suspicious of who is going to benefit from this decision.”
Mr Dametto said he hoped that in due course STL would be more transparent and forthcoming with stakeholders in order to quickly address their concerns and avoid mistrust that could potentially undermine confidence in the sugar industry, an industry that is already struggling off the back of a problematic 2022 crushing season that left many growers out of pocket.