SunRice expects largest crop since 2018
The 2021 SunRice Riverina rice crop is expected to total more than 450,000 paddy tonnes when harvesting commences in March – its largest since 2018. It’s also expected to be more than 10 times the size of the 2020 crop, which was the second smallest on record due to drought, high water prices and low water availability.
While the SunRice Group is currently hiring a significant number of seasonal positions, employees have also been told that there’ll be a short period of ceased production at the Leeton and Deniliquin Mills prior to the 2021 harvest. This temporary period of ceased production is due to both the small 2020 crop – which represented less than 25 percent of Australia’s annual rice consumption – and an increased demand for SunRice products due to COVID-19, which accelerated how quickly remaining supplies were processed.
“The last two years of drought, low water availability and very high water prices – exacerbated by the impacts of water reform – have led to 2019 and 2020 being two of the smallest Riverina rice crops on record,” says SunRice Group CEO Rob Gordon. “This has been an incredibly challenging situation for our growers, but also our employees.
“While we are pleased that conditions have improved significantly to allow the planting of a much larger Riverina rice crop, there will unfortunately be a short gap between when we exhaust remaining supplies of rice and when the next crop is harvested.”
At the peak of the rice demand spike from COVID-19 panic-buying, SunRice was estimating exhaustion of remaining supplies of Aussie rice before Christmas, however the group says it has managed this situation to ensure there’s now only going to be a gap in March and April.