INDEPENDENT economic analysis commissioned by the Australian Sugar Milling Council has revealed a total direct and indirect economic contribution of $1,387 million from the sugar manufacturing sector in the Mackay and Isaac local government areas in 2017-18, underpinning a total of 7634 regional jobs.
Using sugar mill spending data grouped by postcode, respected analyst Lawrence Consulting was able to calculate and quantify the sugar manufacturing sector’s contribution last financial year by Local Government Areas.
“Direct sugar manufacturing spend of $664million at the Farleigh, Marian and Plane Creek mills, and the Racecourse mill and refinery generated significant community benefits in the Isaac and Mackay Regional Council areas” ASMC’s Director of Economics and Trade, David Rynne said yesterday.
“Sugar mills in the region pay wages to 913 employees, purchase cane from local sugarcane growers, and also contract many local businesses to provide the goods and services required to run and maintain raw sugar manufacturing,” Mr Rynne added.
“Modelling the flow-on effects of the mills’ direct expenditure allowed the total (combined direct and indirect) economic impact to be estimated.”
The Lawrence Consulting analysis showed that sugar manufacturing supports 17 per cent of the Mackay economy in terms of Gross Regional Product and serves as an invaluable shock absorber to the cyclical impacts of the resources sector.
The area’s four mills had combined production in 2017 of 820,000 tonnes of raw sugar, noting that co-located at Racecourse Mill is the largest (white) sugar refinery in Australia with 450,000 tonnes of capacity.
The Racecourse Mill has 35 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity and exported 90,000MWh of power into the grid in 2017, providing enough electricity for 12,860 dwellings or around one quarter of homes in the Mackay and Isaac LGAs.
“Direct sugar manufacturing spend of $71 million at Wilmar’s Prosepine mill generated significant community benefits in the Whitsunday local government area,” Mr Rynne said.
“The sugar mill pays wages to 168 employees.”
Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) members (20 sugar mills, owned by six companies) provided independent access to their spending data by postcode for the analysis.
The resulting data revealed a total contribution in excess of $4billion made by the sugar manufacturing sector in Queensland in the same period.
“You can’t overstate the importance of a direct $2.24 billion injection into the state’s economy,” Mr Rynne said.
“And the direct payments stimulated a further $1.81 billion flow-on economic boost in sectors from farm and mill inputs to retail. All of this added up to a total of $4.05 billion gross value add and 22,657 jobs for Queensland,” he added.
ASMC chief executive David Pietsch said the report from respected analysts Lawrence Consulting, confirmed the contribution of sugar manufacturing in terms of wealth and job creation in Queensland.
“We now have detailed data that shows the extent to which Queensland’s sugar mills underpin the regional communities in which they operate,” Mr Pietsch said.
“As we look ahead, despite the current concerns regarding low sugar prices, Queensland’s milling enterprises are keen to grow and invest in new opportunities, if provided with the right economic signals and government policy settings,” he concluded.
Mackay-based Zarb Road Transport is just one example of the suppliers benefiting from the sugar manufacturing sector.
“My father Casey started Zarb Road Transport in 1966 and it continues proudly today as a family-owned and operated business servicing the sugar industry in the Mackay, Burdekin and Herbert districts,” general manager David Zarb said.
“We cart all things sugar from cane to manufactured products with a fleet of more than 60 prime movers and upwards of 110 employees operating from fully-equipped facilities in Mackay and Ayr,” he said.
“Being family owned and operated we know that relationships are key and we strive to achieve consistency in everything we do by continually strengthening our ties with our customers, suppliers and employees.
“Today, nothing is off limits and that’s a credit to our 52-year relationship with sugar manufacturing in North Queensland.”