Mackay's Racecourse Mill.
Mackay's Racecourse Mill. Peter Holt

Wilmar believes fair competition in sugar is "premature"

DRAFTING legislation to ensure fair competition in sugar marketing is "premature and unnecessary", according to sugar industry giant Wilmar.

The company responded yesterday to plans of a private member's bill the state Opposition wants to bring to parliament, designed to add pro-competition amendments to the Sugar Industry Act 1999.

If it makes it through parliament, it would protect farmers from "no choice" marketing plans Wilmar proposed, after they break away from independent sugar marketer Queensland Sugar Limited in 2017.

But Wilmar's executive general manager strategy and business development, Shayne Rutherford, said the proposed changes already would take growers into consideration.

"Wilmar is disappointed the LNP is discussing a private member's bill without having met with us to understand the marketing model we are proposing or the status of negotiations," he said.

"The proposed model we have been talking about with growers and their collectives is designed to increase returns to growers who supply our mills and continues to allow growers to manage their exposure to sugar price through a range of pricing and pooling options.

"The sugar industry was deregulated in 2006, because the industry was on the precipice of failure.

"Any suggestion of returning to an uneconomic and unviable regulated system is very concerning for the future of our business, our 2000 employees and the viability of the 1500 farms that supply our mills."

After consulting with Herbert, Burdekin, Proserpine and Plane Creek Canegrowers representatives on April 1, the groups will meet with Wilmar again on May 13 to discuss details of their marketing plans.


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