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8th December 2017
Harwood SChool visit 2017
Staff and students from the Harwood Island Public School walked from their school to the Sugar Mill today to see just how the local Sunshine Sugar is made. From watching the cane trucks tip their 22 tonne loads of billets into a giant shredding machine, through to the 100,000 tonne capacity raw sugar shed and into the refinery and packing station – the students were amazed by every step in the journey sugar makes from the paddock through to the final pack. The NSW Sugar Industry prides itself on being a business that regularly engages with the local community. As well as being a major employer and contributor to the local economy, in the past 12 months alone, Sunshine Sugar has hosted numerous school groups, sponsored over 30 local community groups and donated combinations of cash, product and prizes to many more throughout the Northern Rivers.

The Tweed Cane Industry was once again on display in the cane pavilion at the annual Tweed Agricultural Show. Stewards Graham Martin, Greg O’Connor, Allan Quirk and John Harbison worked hard leading up to teh show, collecting and installing the cane stalk exhibits.

John Harbison, Tweed Cane Grower and Director of Sunshine Sugar commented; “Whilst entries of cane stalks overall are down on previous years, the quality is exceptional, particularly given the flood event earlier this year and the fact that we are at the tail end of the season with over three-quarters of our crop harvested.”

Judge, Malcolm Warren, the Agricultural Officer for Sunshine Sugar judged the 26 categories which included 15 individual variety sections, as well as weight and sugar content classes.

The pavilion this year also boasted a display of some of the sugar and molasses products that are made from the sugar cane grown locally and made here in the Northern Rivers.

Tweed Show.display2

20th September 2017

Fresh Faced Broadwater Trainee

Monique Doyle is the friendly young face you will meet at the Broadwater Sugar Mill Reception desk.

Monique, a Ballina local, is studying for her Certificate III in Business and Administration. Just two months into a six-month traineeship with Sunshine Sugar, Monique is relishing the experience of learning a range of new skills in office and reception administration.

Having previously worked in hospitality, Monique enjoys the challenges and opportunities that office administration in a larger organisation offer. “Being able to put the things that I am learning at TAFE into practice here at work has been really great;” says Monique.

Having earned her provisional driver’s license the same week as being offered the traineeship, Monique felt that everything was falling into place. Driving to work each day, talking to lots of different people on the job and combining study and work has made the past couple of months a rounded learning experience for Monique.

Sunshine Sugar offers a range of traineeships and apprenticeships each year, with placements made at each of its three sites across the northern rivers.


11th September 2017

Cane Season Sweet So Far

The 2017 NSW cane season is progressing well with just over 40% of the 2 million tonne crop harvested, as of the first week in September. 

A wet start in June created some difficult conditions for both the harvesting and milling sectors.  However, the cane quality improved with cool, dry conditions bringing CCS (sugar content) and cane purity back to favorable levels.

Already this year, some newer cane varieties have shown their potential, with Q208 a stand-out plant that is delivering excellent yields and sugar content across the three mill areas.

Mr Chris Connors, CEO of Sunshine Sugar remarked; “The resilience of the sugar cane crop and the people involved in the industry continues to surprise and delight. The crops in the Tweed are showing strong recovery despite the catastrophic flood in April; and whilst growers and harvesting crews have had to deal with huge amounts of flood debris lodged in the cane, they have managed to keep supply up to the mill.”

As is the case in many flood affected cane areas of Queensland, it is only through the burning of crops that much of this debris can be accessed and removed.

The mill at Condong, which also suffered flood damage, has performed well. Mr Connors puts this down to the efforts of employees and contractors involved in its repair and recommissioning.

To the south, the expansion into areas of the Richmond west of the Broadwater mill, towards Casino, is seeing good cane yields and excellent cane quality. This is a strong endorsement of the potential the area has as a viable cane growing region. The Broadwater mill has consistently performed well this year and is keeping up with the harvesting sector as they take advantage of the good field conditions. 

Despite Harwood mill suffering some mechanical issues during the first part of the season, the Clarence crush is back on track and anticipated to finish in the first week of December.

As the extended dry period enables the harvesting sector to maintain momentum - some Spring rain will soon be welcome as growers look to begin planting new crops and fertilizing their ratoons.

Woodburn Festival2

7th September 2017

Sunshine Sugar Sweetens up Woodburn Riverside Festival

In its sixth year this October, the Woodburn Riverside Festival has once again received support from the local sugar industry.

The family fun day, which is organised by volunteers from the local Woodburn community, has become an iconic event over the past few years. Event organiser, Pam Bellingham described the Festival as “an event run by the community, for the community.”

Sunshine Sugar has been a sponsor of the Festival every year since its inception. This year the local sugar mill will be the major sponsor of both the classic Raft Race as well as the highly competitive Biathlon. This sponsorship has enabled the event committee to offer higher value prize monies this year, which they are hoping will generate even more interest from local water enthusiasts and athletes.

Mrs Bellingham, along with President of the Woodburn Event Team, Mr Glenn Crawford presented Broadwater Sugar Mill Manager, Mr David Wood with a Gold Sponsor Certificate of appreciation this week.

David Wood commented; “Our local communities are really important to our business. In recognition of this, we try to support community groups and events such as the Woodburn Riverside Festival, which are run for the benefit and enjoyment of the local community.”

The Woodburn Riverside Festival will be held on Saturday 14th October and is a full day of family-oriented activity and entertainment on the Richmond River and Riverside Park at Woodburn. The Woodburn Event Team Inc., which organises the Festival, is a non-profit group working to organise events for the social benefit of the residents of Woodburn and surrounds.

Alina and Kathryn

7th September 2017

The Faces and Places Behind NSW Sugar

Victorian Restauranteur Kathryn Russack has teamed up with Photographer Alina Golovachenko on an exploration of the people and places behind the sugar industry of Northern New South Wales.

This is the second collaboration undertaken by the pair and has been inspired by Kathryn’s quest for knowledge about where sugar comes from, who produces it, and how it is made; along with Alina’s passion for capturing the essence of a subject through imagery.

Kathryn remarked; “As a restauranteur, I know many of my food suppliers by name and pride myself in sourcing wholesome Australian ingredients. Because sugar is such a staple ingredient in commercial and home-kitchens alike, I wanted to see firsthand where it is grown and what is involved in the making of this very versatile food.”

Having spent a week touring through the Northern Rivers meeting with cane growers and their families, local businesses and touring the Harwood Mill and Refinery; the pair admit that the generosity and warm-heartedness of the people they have met throughout the northern rivers has left them in awe.

Kathryn also commented; “The soil and the people who work the land here just seem to go together. There is a natural connection between them and a shared passion for seeing sugar produced here, now and into the future. The area should be proud of its sugar tradition.”

Whilst the visit was both a personal and professional excursion, it is envisaged that the stories and images will be put forward in a photographic exhibition and shared across a breadth of food and beverage industries.

Brayden Loy.Student

5th September 2017

Building Skills In The Sugar Trade                      

Local Maclean High School student Brayden Loy, recently spent a week undertaking work experience at the Harwood Sugar Mill, where he was able to apply skills from his metal work studies.

Brayden, who is also doing workplace training with a local carpenter as part of his wood work studies, found the week a valuable real-life experience.

“My project for the week was to interpret the drawing, plan and build a reclaimer rake which will be used as a part of the boiler fuel management system for controlling the supply of bagasse to the boiler. It was great that I was given the opportunity to plan and build something for a specific job and then weld it myself.”

CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Mr Chris Connors said; “It is a great thing to be able to offer young people from our local community the opportunity to learn real skills in real-life situations. Our staff get a great deal of satisfaction in supporting and working with students, especially those like Brayden, who come into our business with such a positive approach and can-do attitude.” 

Sunshine Sugar will be continuing the work experience program for metal working students, with at least two more pupils from Maclean High School scheduled to complete their week long experience at the Harwood Mill and Refinery before the end of the year.  

4th September 2017

Ag Students Sweeten Things Up

For the fifth consecutive year, staff and students from McAuley College in Grafton have toured the sugar production facilities at the Harwood Mill and Refinery, as well as local Clarence Valley cane farms.

Year 10 Agricultural Studies teacher Mr Arron Kennedy, along with 15 students, spent several hours meeting with milling staff and growers as part of their sugar studies tour.  This visit gave students from wide and varied backgrounds the opportunity to see first hand how sugar is grown, and to follow its journey right through to the finished raw and refined sugar products.

Highlights of the visit included learning about how the sugar mills are geared to produce their own electricity and operate virtually carbon-neutral.  In the field, they learned that the sugar cane plant is also environmentally friendly, as it acts as a carbon sponge, absorbing more carbon as it grows than is released during its harvesting and transportation stages.

CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Mr Chris Connors said; “It is great to see the interest these enthusiastic students show as they interact with staff and growers on the job. As a keen employer and trainer of local youth, Sunshine Sugar welcomes these learning visits and supports the sharing of knowledge about sugar production and the value of the sugar industry to the local business and agricultural community.”

Over the coming weeks, the Harwood Mill will be hosting a number of other schools that have requested a similar experience for their Ag Students, based on the recommendation and positive feedback from McAuley College staff.

Sunshine Sugar Sets Sail to Japan

SSS aboard ClipperK

A 30,000 tonne shipment of NSW’s raw sugar is making its way to Japan, having been purchased by Japanese trading company Toyota Tsusho. Toyota Tsusho is the trading arm of the global Toyota Corporation and provides Australian sugar to Japan’s largest sugar refiner.

Chief Executive Officer of Sunshine Sugar, Mr Chris Connors remarked; “The relationship between Sunshine Sugar and Toyota Tsusho has grown over the past couple of years with the Japanese buyers more than satisfied with both the quality of the sugar product and the standard of service they consistently receive from the NSW Sugar Industry.”

Staff from Sunshine Sugar travelled to Brisbane to meet with the Captain and crew and oversee the final stages of loading late last week.

Mr Connors went on to say; “With stringent import restrictions on the quality of raw sugar that can be imported into Japan, Sunshine Sugar has established itself as a supplier that can consistently deliver a product that meets those requirements.”

This latest shipment follows on from successful delivery of export cargos over the last three years.

New Appointment to Sunshine Sugar Executive Management Team

After a lengthy selection process, Sunshine Sugar is pleased to introduce Mr Grant Kaczorowski as the Operations Manager for the Harwood Mill & Refinery. With over 15 years’ experience running ice cream, confectionery and sugar facilities, Melbourne-born Grant brings a wealth of experience across engineering, manufacturing, safety, quality and operations management. Grant has worked in Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom with Nestles’ Ice Cream business, Peter’s Ice Cream. He has also led operational improvement programs for a number of Nestles’ confectionary brands. His expertise in managing improvement programs also extends to leadership roles in Sugar Australia and Paton’s Macadamia.

Grant has an Executive Master’s Degree in Business Administration and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in Food Science and Technology.

CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Mr Chris Connors stated; “Grant brings a lot of skills and expertise to the table that will greatly benefit our business. His track record in successfully delivering Continuous Improvement projects, as well as his technical skills and people-management style make him a stand out appointment to our high-profile Mill and Refinery operations at Harwood.”

Grant is looking forward to working with the highly regarded management team already in place at Sunshine Sugar; utilising his skills and experience to help drive the business even further forward as it implements a structure and strategic plan focussed on business diversity, sustainability and continuous improvement.

Grant, along with his wife and three young children have moved to Yamba where they are looking forward to settling in to local schools, enjoying the relaxed seaside lifestyle and becoming a part of the community.

Grant K 3

NSW Labor Leader Not Sweet On Sugar Tax

NSW Labor Leader Mr Luke Foley visited the Harwood Sugar Mill this week.

Mr Foley met with Sunshine Sugar Chief Executive Officer Mr Chris Connors and was briefed on the unique structure of the NSW sugar industry and the economic importance of the industry to the Northern Rivers in terms of both jobs and financial input. Mr Connors also shared an update on business projects such as cane juice supply and development of a distillery.

Mr Foley used this meeting to reiterate his staunch opposition to a sugar tax. His views were supported by Mr Walt Secord, Shadow Minister for both Health and the North Coast; who sited not just jobs as a reason to oppose the tax, but also that international research has proven that a sugar tax is ineffective in changing dietary behaviour. It was agreed that a sugar tax would hurt the farming and milling communities the most and result in loss of regional industry.

In an interview with NBN, Mr Foley remarked on the impressive characteristics of sugar cane juice as a health product and the sustainability of sugar cane being a readily renewable food and fuel source.

Sugar is a natural and renewable product that provides essential nutrients when consumed at recommended amounts as part of an overall healthy food and exercise routine.

Foley visit.13072017

Pic L to R: Mr Walt Secord, Shadow Minister for Health, Arts, North Coast; Mr Luke Foley, NSW Labor Leader; Mr Chris Connors, Sunshine Sugar CEO; Mr Ross Farlow, Chairman of NSW  Cane Growers Association.

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