OLD MATE Kuok Khoon Hong, the 67-year-old Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wilmar International, continues to play ‘ducks and drakes’ with sugar growers of the Burdekin and Proserpine districts — and if he’s looking for a fight, he’s about to be accommodated.
Tuesday, June 6 is earmarked for Burdekin Sugar Mills — Inkerman, Pioneer, Kalamia and Invicta — to start crushing if they want to finish before Christmas, yet while contracts to supply sugar to these mills are completed and ready to go, the growers still have no choice of marketer.
Proserpine Mill, with a lower volume, can wait until early July; its proposed starting date is around mid-month.
It appears the Singaporean billionaire businessman (pictured) is hell bent of achieving his aim of being sole marketer, even though the law states that growers must be given choice.
The chairman of Canegrowers Burdekin, and Home Hill grower, Phillip Marano, reiterated today that growers must be given choice of marketer — Queensland Sugar Limited or Wilmar.
“The operational side of the cane supply agreements to the mills is complete,” he said. “All contracts are negotiated except the marketing agreement.
“Wilmar is putting-up all roadblocks against conceding marketing arrangements to QSL.
“Yet the shame of it all is that in dealing with Wilmar, we are dealing with Australian executives.”
Mr Marano said the offer had been made to Burdekin growers who were holding back to sign with QSL that, if they wanted to take advantage of the current high prices for sugar on the international market, they could sign with Wilmar, and switch back to QSL at a later date — but there would no doubt be further costs involved.
“But all growers are standing firm,” Mr Marano said. “Only one grower has switched to Wilmar that I can be sure of.
“The growers are adamant — they’re holding firm — there are no takers without a choice of marketer,” he said.
“I can see no hope of the crushing starting in three weeks time.”
Phil Marano added that as a board, the directors have done all they can do to achieve a final result.
“Now it is up to the growers to individually take a stand,” he said.