Open Letter to Wilmar Sugar

13 June 2014

We, LNP Federal Members of Parliament and Senators, are writing to express concern over Wilmar’s decision to exit the current industry-owned export marketing arrangements and set up its own commercial model from 2017. We ask Wilmar to reconsider its position.

At a series of Canegrowers meetings, impacted Queensland growers have unanimously voted to oppose the move, which would take 2 million of the 3.2 million tonnes of sugar away from Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL).

The unilateral decision is anticompetitive and lacks transparency. It would see the growers, who supply Wilmar’s eight mills, stripped of their long-standing right to choose who markets their sugar.

As such, we strongly support growers’ calls for a transparent, industry-owned ‘single desk’ selling system to be maintained. Growers deserve input into how their sugar is marketed, priced and sold.

Not only will this decision be extremely detrimental to the growers who supply to Wilmar, but it will also impact canegrowers elsewhere by diminishing QSL’s place in the market.

Most growers, some of whom are not members of representative organisations like Canegrowers, are small, family owned and operated businesses. They lack the resources to challenge multinational companies.

Decisions such as this effectively squeeze our primary producers, and further reduce their viability.

Our sugar producers are already struggling under the weight of poor weather, high exchange rates and massive electricity price increases. Losing the competitive advantage provided by QSL may well be the final nail in the coffin for many growers.

The sugar industry is vital to our local communities and the Queensland economy. We urge Wilmar Sugar to reconsider its position.