Australia's First Fully Traceable Sustainable Sugar Exported From Queensland To South Korea

Published online: Nov 22, 2022 Feature Lucy Cooper and Lily Nothling,
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Tracking your sugar from the paddock to the supermarket shelf is now a reality with the help of blockchain technology.

In an Australian-first trial, 25,000 tonnes of sustainable Queensland raw sugar is being shipped from Townsville to South Korea.

The product will be traceable through the entire supply chain.

Mark Hampson from Queensland Sugar Limited, Australia's largest raw sugar marketer, said the initiative reflected the desire of consumers to become more sustainable buyers.

"Consumers are demanding more traceability and a better understanding of where their product comes from, how it's produced, and how it's managed through the supply chain," he said. "Consumers are becoming more discerning about what they are using and what impact it's having on the social and environmental landscapes in which it comes from."

The traceability trial, spearheaded by Canegrowers, the peak body for Australian sugarcane growers, has been several years in the making.

"Australia is on the front foot, being able to prove our traceability back to the grower," Canegrowers board member Stephen Calcagno said.

The exported sugar has been produced from cane grown by accredited growers with Smartcane Best Management Practice.

How Does It Work?

To deliver traceable sugar to the world stage, Canegrowers partnered with KMPG Origins — a blockchain-based, track-and-trace platform.

Using readily available data, the platform maps the supply chain of the sugar from paddock to package, including all relevant certifications to ensure the sugar is sustainable at every step of the process.

"The blockchain technology used can trace the sugar from the paddock where it was grown, to the nitrogen and chemicals used to grow it, and then follow the harvest of the product to processing destinations including the sugar mills, the sugar terminals at ports, and where the sugarcane was ending up," KPMG Origins manager Laszlo Peter said. "The data can actually convey the story of the sugar's journey."

What's The Future Of Traceable Sugar?

Industry leaders said the first export of traceable sugar to South Korea marked the start of what would eventually become standard across the sector.

"It's going to be the norm and that's the exciting thing about this," Mr. Calcagno said.

Queensland had a global reputation for producing high-quality sugar, which Mr. Hampson said would continue to provide access to high-value markets in Asia.

"Additional traceability and additional assurance about how it's being produced and managed is going to help preserve market access and set us apart from our competitors," he said.

With hopes to establish Australia as the main sustainable sugar market leader, Mr. Calagno believed a premium for traceable sugar could change the industry forever.

"First step, I'd say we proved it. Second step is market access and then the debate has got to be had about getting a premium and putting it in the growers' pockets and the industry's pocket," he said.