Leading branded food company, SunRice, has been named Australia’s top regional exporter in the wake of the extraordinary global return of the local rice industry after a decade of drought.
The company won the Regional Exporter of the Year award at the Australian Export Awards held in Canberra last week.
The awards — now in their 50th year — recognise excellence in export, and SunRice was competing against state and territory award-winning companies from across Australia.
This national win follows on from SunRice taking out the Regional Exporter of the Year Award at the 2012 Premier’s NSW Export Awards in October.
‘‘The SunRice story began in the Riverina and we were honoured to represent regional NSW at a national level at the awards,’’ SunRice chairman Gerry Lawson said.
‘‘We are delighted to have won the Australian Regional Exporter Award and to have our company and our industry recognised in this way.
‘‘Our business has seen a stunning turnaround following the drought, returning to large crop years and full operations across our milling division. The recovery of the Australian rice industry in 2011/12 has been an incredible achievement for our growers, our shareholders and our company.’’
SunRice exports approximately 80 per cent of Australia’s total annual rice production and this year’s harvest of 963,000 tonnes will feed at least 23 million people around the world every day for the next year.
‘‘This award is an important reminder of the significance of Australian food production for global food security and the need for balanced use of Australia’s water resources into the future.
‘‘Over the past year, SunRice has re-established significant international markets and expanded its operations.
‘‘We re-opened Deniliquin Mill in 2011 and have recently celebrated the re-instatement of the last of our mills — at Coleambally — which will further boost our export capacity and manufacturing in NSW.’’
The Ricegrowers Association of Australia (RGA) congratulated SunRice on its win.
RGA president, Les Gordon, said what a difference a couple of years can make.
‘‘This is an outstanding result for a company which was forced to scale back its operations in the Riverina to a bare minimum as the impact of the drought saw rice growers virtually unable to produce rice in the region.
‘‘Full credit must be given to the directors and management team at SunRice for placing the company in a position to be able to quickly resume operations and regain export markets once growers were able to produce rice again.’’
‘‘Over the past year we have seen the company generate more than a billion dollars in revenue, return Australian rice to the world, re-establish important export markets, re-open the Coleambally Rice Mill, and pay an additional bonus payment to growers.’’.
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