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Sunshine Sugar has been recognised for its commitment to Work Health & Safety, taking out the award for Excellence in Work Health & Safety at the Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards over the weekend.

These Awards have been running since 2007 and have become a focal point for local businesses striving for improvement, and they provide a forum for rewarding business excellence.

As a major regional employer with significant manufacturing infrastructure, Sunshine Sugar has developed a number of programs specifically targeted at improving the health and wellbeing of employees.

CEO Chris Connors explains; “We are strongly committed to continuous improvement and have developed a safety management system to AS/NZS 4801(ISO45001). Safety Committees are active across all areas of the business and are supported by formalised training programs, reporting and reward systems for positive safety performance as well as regular internal and external audits on safety systems and processes.”

Sunshine Sugar has also worked to deliver a Work Health and Safety Manual specifically for the growing and harvesting sector and participates in the SafeWork NSW Mentoring program.

Mr Connors added; “with a set of core values in place that have been developed by the people within the business and endorsed and supported by both management and the Board – we have a strong culture around Teamwork, Integrity, Excellence, Accountability and Safety. And it’s working.”

Entering the Business Excellence Awards gives local businesses the opportunity to analyze their operation, reflect on achievements and clarify plans to keep themselves vibrant and progressive.

CVBE Award.Grant and Dale

The newly refurbished Clarence Cane Growers office in River Street Maclean, officially opened its doors to special guests today.

Mayor Jim Simmons, along with Clarence Valley Council General Manager, Ashley Lindsay and President of the Maclean Chamber of Commerce Peter Gordon; all spoke at the event; acknowledging the significant value of the cane industry to the local economy and the demonstration of commitment by the Association in investing in the future of their main street offices, their workforce and their members.

The event was also attended by representatives from the Richmond and Tweed Valley cane grower groups as well as staff from the Harwood Sugar Mill and Refinery.

The catalyst for the transformation was extensive termite damage to the timber floors and walls of the original building. Local tradespeople were brought in to repair and extensively renovate the building that has housed local cane grower association staff for decades.

Chairman of the Clarence Cane Growers and the NSW Cane Growers, Mr Ross Farlow, said; “We are very proud of the modern and well-equipped facility we now have, and look forward to this being a solid and productive base for current and future generations of local cane industry representatives.”

Resident staff members Brendan Reeves and Teresa Colbrelli played an active role in designing and overseeing the renovation project.

As incoming Manager of the Clarence Cane Growers, Brendan has been able to put his own mark on the design and fit out of his new office space. He remarked; “A lot of thought has gone into not just the layout of the rooms, but things such as the use of colour and flow of natural light into different spaces has been considered.”

The Clarence Cane Industry is the biggest contributor to the Clarence Valley agri-food economy, with an estimated value of around $90 million. Made up of farming families, local cane growers have been a major part of the Clarence Valley landscape and community for well over 100 years.

10th July 2018

Sunshine Sugar’s Low GI Sugar is now ready to hit the shelves around the country, as the first line of the new retail product was produced over the weekend.

Sunshine Sugar is the first in the world to install the technology to produce Nucane – the good sugar®, a wholesome cane sugar that is rich in antioxidants with a low glycemic index.

Mr Chris Connors, CEO of Sunshine Sugar commented; “The NSW sugar industry is focussed on delivering a range of new products that meet the demands of consumers and give returns to our growers. With a worldwide focus on health concerns such as obesity and diabetes, Nucane™ offers our business the opportunity to manufacture a healthier cane sugar on a scale that makes it widely available and affordable.”

Sunshine Sugar’s Low GI sugar is made using the Nucane™ process, which was developed in Australia. The brainchild of Dr David Kannar of the Nutrition Innovation Group, this technology applies advanced production methodologies at the sugar milling stage to consistently produce a sugar that retains naturally occurring and beneficial antioxidants. Nucane™ is a 100% natural, low GI cane sugar that is more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised – resulting in a lower and slower rise in blood glucose.

Sunshine Sugar is the only 100% Bonsucro certified and Australian owned sugar operations in the world and is proud to be an Australian company leading the way in this initiative.

A short video of the new retail product, Sunshine Sugar Low GI Sugar, making its way through the packing facility can be viewed at:

Low GI First Packs



The June edition of Food and Drink Business Magazine is again featuring our new Low GI Sugar and how this Australian invention is set to change many recipes in creating healthier versions of the food and drinks we all enjoy. Excerpt as follows;

Food Drink.June edition.snippet

The first truck load of billets for the 2018 cane harvest season arrived at Broadwater this morning. Crushing will commence at the Harwood Mill later this week, and Condong Mill next week. 

In the Richmond Valley, local growers continue to produce the greatest volume of sugar cane of the three main growing regions in NSW.

The Broadwater Mill expects to crush more than 700,000 tonnes of cane between June and December this year. The footprint of land under sugar cane in the Richmond has been steadily extending as farming ground in western parts of the valley move to sugar production. “New and existing land owners are seeing the value in sugar cane and the NSW sugar industry as a good investment now and into the future”, says Mr Connors. “As an industry, we have a solid business model, supported by well-established infrastructure and positive grower relations; which has encouraged a number of broad acre farmers to make the move to sugar cane production.”

In the Clarence Valley, Australia’s longest running sugar mill, the Harwood Mill and Refinery is also preparing for a busy season. Approximately 670,000 tonnes of cane is forecast to make its way to the Harwood Mill for crushing.

A year on for the devastating floods that heavily affected the Tweed Valley, growers are looking forward to a less dramatic season and are expecting to harvest some 500,000 tonnes of cane.

This cane will be milled at the Condong Sugar Mill and much of it will produce a Low-GI sugar for both industrial and retail markets. CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Chris Connors said; “The start of the 2018 crush signals the start of full scale production of this exciting development in sugar. Low GI to World Health Organisation standards, we are aiming to provide a healthy sugar option for food and beverage manufacturers and consumers across Australia.”

Cane truck1 2018

Audio of an interview with Chris Connors, CEO of Sunshine Sugar, which aired on ABC Country Hour can be accessed at the following link:

In this interview, Chris talks about Sunshine Sugar's new Low GI sugar and responds to questions regarding a proposed sugar tax in Australia.

Note: Interview with Chris commences at 17:00

20th March 2018

Ag Minister.190318

Sunshine Sugar welcomed the Federal Agriculture Minister, Mr David Littleproud along with local member for Page, Kevin Hogan, to its Harwood Mill and Refinery this week.

Sunshine Sugar CEO, Mr Chris Connors, hosted the delegation and said; “Mr Littleproud clearly has a good understanding of the Australian agricultural sector. This visit was a great opportunity for us to share our specific industry concerns and plans directly with him; with particular focus on our diversification projects such as Low GI sugar.”

This Low GI sugar is made using the nucane process.  An Australian technology, it applies an algorithm throughout the sugar milling stage to retain naturally occurring and beneficial antioxidants. Low GI sugar is a wholesome sugar that is more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised – allowing for a lower and slower rise in blood glucose. It is a 100% natural cane sugar that can be used in any food or beverage recipe.

The Agriculture Minister welcomed this innovation and shared his opposition to the introduction of a sugar tax, saying that he supported people’s right to make their own decisions around personal matters such as food and beverage consumption. With a background in agribusiness and politics, Mr Littleproud certainly has the credentials to serve rural and regional Australia. He is passionate in his belief that farmers are too often overlooked as custodians of the land and that more needs to be done to educate the nation about where and how our foods and fibres are made. As a supporter of the decentralisation of some government agencies, he also believes that moving jobs into regional centres is important and that every additional job in a regional area has a noticeable, positive impact on that local economy.

Mr Littleproud congratulated the Sunshine Sugar team on the development of their new Low-GI sugar and commitment to sustainable practice, and stands ready to support the NSW sugar industry in his role as Minister for Agriculture.

Photo L to R: Chris Connors, CEO of Sunshine Sugar; Kevin Hogan, Member for Page, holding a bowl of locally produced Low GI sugar; David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture


Aired 26 February 2018

30 January 2018 
Electrical engineering scholar enjoys Condong Sugar Mill work culture 
Life in a sugar mill feels like home to Michael Simmers.  A recipient of the prestigious Sugar Research Institute Scholarship in 2017, Michael recently completed a work placement at Sunshine Sugar’s Condong Mill and couldn’t be happier with the experience.
“I already feel extremely lucky to be working with engineers who have a wealth of industry experience and their understanding of the variability and diversity of the electrical projects at the mill,” Mr Simmers said.
The Queensland University of Technology electrical engineering student has been able to apply his skills to projects and embrace the positive, supportive work culture at Condong Mill. 
“I have a fairly good idea of how the main processes operate, however, each mill is individual along with its employees,” Mr Simmers said.
Condong Sugar Mill electrical engineering superintendent Nigel McDowell said that the work placements provide students with a valuable learning experience plus support the projects being undertaken during their placement.
“Michael’s second placement was very easy to move into due to his first placement experience and the way he has been received by the staff during this placement,” Mr McDowell said.
Sugar Research Institute training and development manager Bruce King said that Michael was one of four successful scholarship recipients’ chosen on their proven ability to work well in a team environment and to create positive practical outcomes.
“Electrical engineering students like Michael are able to apply theory learned from their studies and the processes of problem solving to understand the process of electrical design and testing in real world environments,” Mr King said.
The Sugar Research Institute Scholarship is awarded to students in their penultimate year studying chemical, mechanical, process or electrical engineering or science degrees with an interest in working in the Australian sugar processing industry. 
Scholarship recipients undertake three work placements of four weeks in Australian sugar mills during crushing and maintenance seasons.
Applications for the Sugar Research Institute Scholarship close 12 March 2018. For more information visit:   Sugar Research Institute’s understanding of the science of sugar processing helps sugar mills and refineries worldwide to maximise sugar recovery, and to deliver best practice in process efficiency and plant design. SRI operates on a not-for-profit basis and is owned and supported by Australia’s sugar milling industry. 
For further information, please contact: Max Russell - Communications Coordinator, Sugar Research Institute | M:  0407 589 790
January 2018… 2/3
A wide variety of food products could be made with dramatically lower sugar levels after an Australian technology firm secured a landmark partnership with two of the world’s leading food engineering companies and NSW sugar growers. The development has the potential to deliver a market-led response to high obesity rates and poor nutrition around the world. In Australia, it may also help circumvent a political stalemate over the role of governments in guiding consumer dietary choices. Health groups have long called for the introduction of a sugar tax to make soft drinks, in particular, less affordable, but the Coalition and Labor favour other approaches. The firm known as Nutrition Innovation Group, the brainchild of Sydney food scientist David Kannar, has developed a manufacturing process that delivers a healthier, low-GI industrial sugar known as Nucane that can be used by food manufacturers as a substitute for refined sugar. While Dr Kannar has been promising his process can change the world for more than a decade, Nutrition Innovation has now struck a series of agreements with heavyweight global and local players. They include international food engineering companies Foss and Schneider Electric, who install production technology in sugar mills all over the world, and Sunshine Sugar, a joint partnership between Manildra and sugar growers in NSW that operate in the NSW Sugar Co-operative. Sunshine Sugar chief executive Chris Connors said the group was preparing its Condong food-grade sugar mill on the Tweed River in northern NSW for the industrial-scale production of Nucane. “This is just a part of our business strategy. We are looking to diversify our income streams and not be just a producer of white crystal sugar,’’ Mr Connor said. “We are a raw sugar food-grade factory so this technology fits straight into our production arrangements.” Infrared technology with a proprietary algorithm developed by Nutrition Innovation allows the naturally occurring minerals found in cane sugar such as calcium, magnesium and potassium to be retained in the production process. It produces 100 per cent cane sugar that has the same taste and texture as regular white sugar, but a significantly lower GI. The sugar has been certified as low-GI to the World Health Organisation’s standards. “It (Nucane) is going to have a place in the world sugar market. There is no doubt about that. There will be strong support out of the health industry and from customers themselves. We are particularly focusing on the industrial side of it — in terms of supplying to ingredient businesses,’’ Mr Connors said. “I can see us in Australia leading the way initially on this and the world following. This is all about ensuring the sustainability of our growers.” The Australian Medical Association recently repeated its call for a sugar tax, claiming one in five Australians died from conditions related to poor diet and said it was “not an exaggeration to call sugar a killer”. The obesity rate among Australian adults increased from 19 per cent in 1995 to 28 per cent in 2014-15, with the high sugar contents in cheap soft drinks and processed foods cited by health groups as cause for alarm. A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said fresh fruit and vegetables were already cheaper due to the absence of the GST and “we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge”.

Dr Kannar, whose brother died during the development of Nucane after a battle with diabetes, said the product was designed for industrial customers in many supermarket staples. “We have a range of customers in trial in categories as diverse as beverages, fruit juice, canned products, flavoured milks, soy milk, yoghurts, breads, baked goods, ice-cream, confectionary, chocolates, sauces and quick service restaurants,’’ he said. “We additionally have customers in discussion or testing the product in Australia, Thailand, France, the US, the UK and Singapore ... we can scale rapidly to any mill in the world that accepts the technology and has food grade sugar mills.” He said Nutrition Innovation was also in talks with some supermarket operators on how their home-brand goods from baked goods to sauces could be made with Nucane to give them a competitive advantage. Foss instrumentation has been used in the sugar industry since 1999. As part of Nutrition Innovation’s partnership with Sunshine Sugar, Foss and Schneider-Electric will ensure the Nucane technology is installed, maintained, updated and configured to specification. Paul Slupecki, Foss’s vice-president sales and marketing for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the two firms would help increase capacity to other milling sites as demand for Nucane increased. “We have our first production trial running in Australia at Condong. It is going extremely well. There is a lot of interest in Australia and Southeast Asia where sugar is such a big part of the economies. As well as Brazil. Both Foss and Schneider have big and strong footprints in those regions,’’ he said. Mr Slupecki said Thailand was the first focus of the partners, given that as many as 50 sugar mills were set to be built there over the coming years. “To help make the world a healthier place, we have global ambition for Nucane. We aim to make it available to food and beverage manufacturers in all major markets,’’ said Nutrition Innovation CEO Matthew Godfrey. “Importantly, six out of the top 10 sugar cane producing countries in the world are in Asia. Therefore, while Australia is the market that is leading Nucane (and has clear export opportunities) to reach our goals, we need to have a strong Asian supply of Nucane. Markets like Thailand and India are major global exporters of cane sugar, while Indonesia and China have significant total consumption,” he said.
Chris Connors nucane
Photograph by Natalie Grono

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