A BUMPER crop helped take Mackay Sugar's before-tax profit for the year ended May 31 to $16.3 million.
Despite the sweet turnaround in revenue, which represented a $28.8 million improvement over the $12.5 million loss incurred in the 2012 financial year, there was a sense of bitterness among growers heading into the company's annual general meeting yesterday.
Growers talked about poor mill performance during this year's crush, while they gathered in the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre foyer before entering the AGM, which focused on last year's season.
Lester Paul, who is a member of the Pioneer Valley Concerned Growers Group, attended the meeting to vote in favour of floating 100% of company shares on the Australian Stock Exchange.
"When you look around at the growers, they are all getting old - the average age would be 59 or 60," he said.
"There are farmers here who cannot unload their shares."
Other growers, like Ted Bussey who was unable to attend the meeting, were not in favour of this motion. Mr Bussey said listing the shares would open up the company to foreign ownership. "To Mackay Sugar's credit, they have had a focus on staying Australian-owned," he said.
The 2012 season crop of 6.125 million tonnes was up 47.1% on the 2011 season crop.
The Mossman Mill operation accounted for 12.2% of the increase and the three Mackay mills accounted for 34.9% of the increase, the AGM report stated.
The acquisition of Mossman Mill was another point on the AGM's agenda. The Mossman Mill operations contributed to additional revenue of $31.7 million and additional expenses of $31.5 million during the 2012/13 financial year.
Mackay Sugar representatives declined to comment yesterday.