September 26, 2023
Sourcing sugars – sustaining continued yield with La Niña and El Niño

Figure 1Source - CSIRO

Sugar plays a key role in precision fermentation. As a low-cost source to fuel the growth of microbes, sugar assists in securing economic viability for the precision fermentation industry.

Australia’s climate and weather varies heavily from season to season, leaving our agriculture sector vulnerable to impacts from a weather system that is difficult to predict, meaning our farmers need to put strategies in place in order to sustain a continued yield.

Following three years of La Niña, climate models have indicated that we are facing a return of El Niño, with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently publishing that there is a 50% chance of El Niño developing before year end. So, what are these systems and how do they affect Australia’s agriculture, the sugar industry, and more specifically, precision fermentation advancements?

The systems explained.

El Niño and La Niña events are part of the global climate system that occur when the Pacific Ocean, as well as the atmosphere around it, shift from a neutral state for multiple seasons. La Niña refers to the cool period of the central and eastern tropical Pacific.  By now we’re all familiar with the highs and lows of this system as it’s dominated weather patterns around the globe, delivering above average rainfall and devastating flooding across Australia over the past three years.

Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially announced the weather event was finally come to an end. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the Pacific Ocean is currently in ENSO-neutral, meaning it is neither in La Niña nor El Niño. However, this new peace may not last long with the ENSO Outlook currently sitting at ‘El Niño watch’ with a 50% chance that the system will develop this year.

A return of El Niño will likely bring hotter, drier weather across the country as El Niño often suppresses rainfall in Eastern Australia throughout winter and spring.

How does this impact sugar production?

The Australian Sugar Industry

Sugar is one of Australia’s largest export crops, bringing in a total annual revenue of close to $2 billion according to Sugar Australia. Australia is also one of the largest exporters of raw sugar worldwide, exporting approximately 80% of produce overseas. The crop is grown in tropical regions with strong sunshine and consistent high levels of rainfall. In Australia, Queensland fits the bill best, delivering 95% of the of Australia’s raw sugar with the remaining 5% grown in NSW.

For some farmers the recent La Niña event meant relief following years of unrelenting and devastating drought, delivering much needed rainfall. For others, La Niña, delivered devastation by flooding agricultural land in northern New South Wales and parts of Queensland.

Variability in weather and climate is a key consideration in the Australian agriculture industry, with many climate-related risk components to be considered. In order to maintain yield, farmers across Australia are proactive in developing strategies to mitigate the risks brought by Australia’s climate when planning and implementing farm decisions.

Domestic sugar production and Australia’s precision fermentation industry.

The high volume of sugar cane grown domestically puts Australia in an advantageous position while entering the emerging precision fermentation industry. The access to low cost, domestic produce allows for the Australian precision fermentation industry to overcome the challenge of scaling up production and growing the market.

Australia’s sugar industry is incredibly resilient, successfully navigating difficult and constantly changing climate conditions to maintain yield each year. Eden Brew is proud to be an Australian-owned business that will support domestic produce while scaling up production.


Vlad Magdalin

Passionate reader | People person | The one behind All dad jokes