SWEET SENSATION: The raw sugar storage at the Harwood Sugar Refinery.
SWEET SENSATION: The raw sugar storage at the Harwood Sugar Refinery.

Harwood sugar refinery turns 25

NEXT time you savour a Ferrero Rocher or tuck into a bowl of Kellogs cereal, think about where the sugar came from.

There's a good chance it came from Harwood.

Since the Manildra Harwood Sugars refinery began production on September 28, 1989, it has produced more than five million tonnes of refined sugar and related products.

To celebrate the company's 25th year of operation, Manildra Harwood Sugars will fling open their doors today (Saturday) to take local residents and interested parties on a tour of the refinery.

According to factory manager Stephen King, it's worth the tour -- he is one of the 34 people who have worked at the mill since the beginning.

Mr King said he was living in Sydney when he saw an advertisement for the new venture in the paper.

"My wife's family came from Alstonville area, so we were always looking forward to being able to live and work on the North Coast again," he said.

"I arrived during construction of the refinery and stayed for the duration since."

Over the years, Mr King has worked in all facets of the mill and refinery, and has been the factory manager for the last seven years.

Aside from the people and the work, Mr King said he most loved the historical aspect of the mill.

"The Harwood mill started producing 1878, so it's the oldest operational mill in Australia -- to be such a big part of it for 25 years is pretty cool," he said.

"It's an interesting place to work and we make a big contribution to the local community and economy.

"It's good to see an agricultural community prospering -- we supply up to 25% of the refined sugar market in Australia."

MHS was the world's first refiner to be awarded Bonsucro certification, the global metric standard for sustainable sugar production, and is also the only 100% Australian-owned refinery, a point of pride for CEO Chris Connors.

"We are the only sugar refinery business in the world that has that certification," he said.

"It's about the customer at the end knowing we're sustainable in how we practice, and customers are starting to look at that now."

Mr Connors said he was looking forward to the open day. Harwood Sugar Mill and Refinery is on Csr Rd, Harwood. Tours start from 10.30am.

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