Sugarcane is one of Australia’s largest crops and accounts for a significant percentage of the crops produced in Queensland’s coastal agricultural production areas. The first Australian fields were established in Queensland in the mid-19th century; since then the Australian industry has grown to become one of the world’s largest exporters of raw sugar along with Brazil, the European Union, Thailand and the United States. Australian production of sugarcane is around 35 million tonnes per year. The main product of Australian sugarcane is raw sugar of which about 80 per cent is bulk exported.
The Australian industry is well established with a proven production and marketing system. The locations in which it can be grown are limited by climate, reliable water (rainfall and/or irrigation) and proximity to processing mills. This generally limits the production to tropical climates along coastal areas where there is reliable rainfall or irrigation water resources.
Sugarcane is predominantly grown along the northeast coast of Australia, throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales. There are around 4,000 cane farming enterprises in Australia. These supply 24 mills that are run by seven milling companies. The major product in Australia is raw crystal sugar; this is sold to refineries both domestically and internationally.
There are several organisations representing sugarcane growers in Australia. Canegrowers is the national peak body for sugarcane growers; as well as a national office they also have regional branches. The Australian Cane Farmers Association is a member based organisation representing sugarcane farmers. Sugar Research Australia is the industry research and development corporation that funds and manages research, development and extension (RD&E) projects that drive productivity, profitability and sustainability for the Australian sugarcane industry. Sugar Research Australia is funded by a statutory levy applied to growers and millers per tonne of sugarcane.
Facts and figures
- Sugarcane is predominantly grown in Queensland, accounting for 95% of the national production
- More than 80% of all sugar produced in Australia is exported as bulk raw sugar
- Sugar is the second largest export crop in Australia after wheat with a total annual revenue of around AU$2.5 billion
- Areas where sugarcane can be commercially produced are limited by climate, water resources and proximity to a processing mill
Australian sugarcane production averages around 35 million tonnes with the bulk grown in Queensland.
There are around 4,000 cane farming enterprises in Australia.