Agribusiness & Food

Australian study uses blockchain to trace sugar supply chain

Queensland’s sugar mills have produced more than two million tonnes of raw sugar this season, according to the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC).

Australia is set to pioneer a new era of sustainable sugar exports, according to Queensland sugar cane farmer advocacy group, Canegrowers.

In a world first, the sugar produced from cane grown by Smartcane BMP accredited growers, will be traceable through the supply chain to the end user in South Korea.

The proof-of-concept trial is the culmination of years of work by Canegrowers and KPMG Origins, working with a range of supply chain partners to create a platform that would use blockchain technology to trace the provenance of sugar from paddock to package.

The KPMG Origins blockchain technology was tested in Tully and Mackay to show traceability of Smartcane BMP accredited sugarcane from farm to mill.

The export pilot will test traceability from the bulk sugar terminal to the customer and will involve a 25,000-tonne shipment of sugar sold by Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), through sugar trader Czarnikow, and delivered to the buyer in South Korea.

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Canegrowers Chairman Owen Menkens said there has been a huge growth in consumer demand for sustainable products across all sectors of the economy, and sugar is no different.

“While proving sustainability can be difficult, through the hard work of growers across the state we have a head start in this area,” Menkens said.

“Over many years, Canegrowers has been implementing the industry-led best management practice program, Smartcane BMP, and today almost 40 per cent of Queensland’s cane land is accredited in the program.

“In addition to this, Smartcane BMP has itself been recognised by global sugar sustainability programs, Bonsucro, Czarnikow VIVE, and ProTerra as aligning with their respective sugar sustainability frameworks.”

Menkens said the driving force behind the project was a desire to keep Australia’s sugar industry at the cutting edge of innovation, while also developing a system that could improve market access for Australian sugar, as well as claim a possible premium for growers.

“Growers continue to innovate and improve farming practices to build both environmental sustainability and improve productivity,” Menkens said.

“Often these efforts have gone unrecognised by both markets and government. But as demand increases for certified, traceable, sustainable sugar, growers will need to see these efforts rewarded.”

QSL general manager marketing Mark Hampson said the pilot shipment was an important first step into an evolving market.

“As is the case with countless other products, changing consumer sentiment is not only driving the demand for ethically produced, sustainable sugar, but making it a key pillar of market access,” Hampson said.

“Initiatives such as these are essential to ensure we not only meet that demand, but keep Queensland sugar the product of choice in high-paying markets.”

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