• arrow-up GVP $70 million est. Down 0.3% year-on-year.
  • Total tonnes crushed was 17% lower year-on-year, at 1.33 million tonnes.
  • Sugar prices remained strong with the average Australian spot price for 2022-23, 14% higher year-on-year.
The value of sugar cane production is estimated to be $70.3 million in 2022-23, a marginal decrease from the prior year. This was despite production being impacted by extensive flooding across the growing districts for the 2022 crush season, with the area harvested down 11% from 2021 and a lower average cane yield. The total tonnes crushed for the Northern Rivers industry was 1.33 million tonnes, 17% lower year on year. Mitigating the lower production to an extent was the stronger sugar prices, with the average benchmark futures price for 2022-23 10% higher than the 2021-22 average price, and the average Australian spot price 14% above the 2021-22 year and averaged $663 /tonne in 2022-23. Global sugar stocks remain relatively tight in the near term and likely supportive of prices.


NSW sugar production in 2022-23 fell 21%. Production was impacted by substantial flooding that resulted in damage to crops and field and farm infrastructure, as well as impacting vital mill infrastructure at Broadwater on the Richmond River during the year. This followed on from flooding experienced by the industry in the prior 2021-22 year. 169 170

As a result of the flooding and continued wet conditions limiting access to crops for timely management practices, the total area harvested was down 11% for the 2022 crushing season from 2021, at 12,651 ha along with cane yield per hectare at 105 tonnes/ha. 171 The total tonnes crushed for the Northern Rivers industry was 1.33 million tonnes, 17% lower on the

2021 season. Cane crushed when combined with an average sugar content of 11.96 CCS, j resulted in total sugar production for the 2022 season 21% lower year on year with 158,800 tonnes (ISP) k from the three mills. 171 The excessively wet conditions across the 2021 and 2022 crushes added to management complexity for NSW growers who typically manage one- and two- year crops to optimise production in the sub-tropical environment.

Total cane crushed by each of the three mills servicing the NSW industry was lower in 2022-23, with Broadwater mill crushing 38% lower tonnage from Richmond Valley growers from the previous year. Condong on the Tweed River recorded 14% lower tonnage while Harwood, supplied by Clarence Valley growers, was only down 9% on the 2021 season. 169 170

Area harvested & sugar production k 171

  • Area harvested for milling (ha)
  • Sugar produced (t, ISP) (RHS)

Northern Rivers mill crushes 2021 and 2022 169 170

  • Harwood
  • Broadwater
  • Condong

Northern Rivers mill crushes 2021 and 2022 169 170

  • Harwood
  • Broadwater
  • Condong


International sugar prices reached recent record highs during 2022-23 with the futures price peaking during May 2023. The average futures price for 2022-23 was 20.9 US cents/lb and an average Australian spot price of $663 /tonne. 122 174 These prices were 10% and 14% above the 2021-22 year respectively. The average 2022-23 spot price for Australian sugar is 55% higher than the average price prior to 2020-21. 122 174 In addition to the strong global sugar price, favourable Australian exchange rates generally supported the Australian sugar price through much of the 2022-23 year.

Australian sugar price and exchange rate 122 166

  • Spot Price
  • Exchange Rate (RHS)
Global sugar consumption increased an estimated 1.3% in 2022-23 to 176 million tonnes, at the same time as production decreased 1% year on year, with production in excess of estimated global consumption equivalent to 1.3 million tonnes for 2022-23. Consequently, ending stocks for 2022-23 are estimated to be 17% lower than in 2021-22, at 39.5 million tonnes. This reduced production and lower stocks have supported robust sugar prices in 2022-23. 172

Benchmark raw sugar price and global annual production/consumption balance 122 175

  • Sugar futures price (USD/lb)
  • Global Net Production ('000 tonnes) (RHS)

Trade and Macroeconomic Conditions

Exports of sugar from NSW production is relatively minor with most of the processed product directed to domestic markets. Exports of pure sucrose (in solid form) totalled $3.15 million in 2022-23 with New Zealand representing 70% share by value. 35

Sugar production from the major producers were generally below expectations during the 2022-23 season despite relatively high pricing. 179 While Brazil production lifted over the 2020-21 season, it was still 10% below the record achieved in 2020-21.

The second largest producer India experienced a 13% decrease as a result low rainfall in key growing regions followed by excessive rains just prior to harvest reducing cane yields, consequently exports from India decreased 45% to 6.5 million tonnes in 2022-23. 172 176 This decline in Indian exports essentially offset the additional exports from the other two majors, Brazil and Thailand. Similarly, production from sugar beet in the European Union was also lower in 2022-23 causing the EU to increase imports of sugar by 50%, an additional 1 million tonnes. 172

Global sugar production has remained stagnant over the last decade with limited investment in processing and crystallisation capacity observed. At the same time global demand for sugar increases by approximately 2 million tonnes per year. 179 In recent years Thai cane growers have diverted cropping area to casava in response to strong demand from China for chips and starch used for ethanol production and animal feed. 177 Similarly producers in Brazil also have switched some area to corn and soybean production. 176 Ethanol production especially for Brazil and India cane production remains an important driver, and dependent upon competing oil prices and various government ethanol mandates. An estimated 4.5 million tonnes of sugar equivalent was diverted to ethanol production in India representing 13% of India’s estimated production in 2022-23. 176


Global sugar stocks remain relatively tight in the near term which should support the sugar price, with production by key producers such as Brazil the major factor in the demand/supply balance. Brazil production is expected to lift in 2023-24 given better seasonal conditions offset to some extent by lower anticipated production in Thailand. 176 179 181 Aside from seasonal growing conditions in key producing countries, the value of competing crops relative to sugar, as well as the relative price of ethanol to sugar will influence production decisions of farmers and mills respectively and therefore sugar supply.

NSW cane production from the 2023 season is anticipated to continue to reflect the effect of the 2021 and 2022 flooding events which disrupted cropping programs. Despite this, the industry has reported continued interest in sugarcane production, given relative robustness of sugarcane to flooding compared to many alternate crops grown in the Northern Rivers region and recent strong prices. 60

Stronger Primary Industries Strategy

2023 Winburndale Trout Muster

Strategic Outcome

Icon, a circle of leaves
Sustainable Resources and Productive Landscapes
  • 6.1 Assess and monitor natural resource health for sustainability
  • 6.4 Improve the quality of the natural resource base

From Friday 19 to Sunday 16 July 2023, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries worked with Recreational Fishers from the Central Acclimatisation Society, Inland Waters Rejuvenation Association of OzFish and OzFish Unlimited to relocate over one thousand hundred Brown and Rainbow Trout from the Winburndale Dam and the stream above, to the Mill Pond at Portland to help the survival of an iconic threatened species.

This Trout relocation effort had double benefits, making the Brown and Rainbow Trout available to recreational fishers and assisting in the establishment of a new threatened Macquarie Perch population. Macquarie Perch has not been formally identified in the Macquarie River catchment for over 70 years.

Currently the Winburndale Dam and Rivulet contain a healthy self-sustaining population of Brown Trout that cannot be accessed by recreational anglers due to it being a protected water catchment with no public access. The site is also the location of the recent re-introduction of Macquarie Perch into the catchment. This is a unique opportunity to boost recreational fish in the area and assist in the recovery of a threatened native species at the same time.

The re-introduction of the Macquarie Perch is thanks to a joint research effort between NSW DPI and the University of the Sunshine Coast using an innovative hormone therapy to breed the ‘Macca’. Researchers implanted a hormone into a female fish and almost all of them spawned naturally with males in the tanks at Narrandera Fisheries Centre. Until very recently, only wild-caught spawning Macquarie Perch could be successfully bred in hatcheries. The bred fingerlings were then released into the Macquarie-Wambuul a few years ago at the Winburndale Dam and Rivulet where the Trout Muster took place. The Macquarie Perch was once a very important recreational species, however, there have been major declines in its abundance in all rivers in NSW.

This really is a momentous event, with a goal of giving the newly stocked Macquarie Perch fingerlings the best chance of survival, whilst also relocating local Trout from the dam to an accessible location for fishers. For more details, please visit the NSW DPI Fisheries website