Sugar beet production ‘could rise by 50%’ as EU quotas lifted

The sugar beet campaign begins at the British Sugar factory in Bury.

The sugar beet campaign begins at the British Sugar factory in Bury. - Credit: Archant

UK sugar beet production could rise by 50% annually with the lifting of EU sugar production quotas, according to British Sugar.

The British Sugar factory in Bury.

The British Sugar factory in Bury.

The industry, which supplies 60% of the UK market is a “homegrown success story”, said Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, which has a sugar factory at Bury St Edmunds and others across East Anglia supplied with sugar beet from the region’s farmers.

The dismantlement of the EU sugar regime on November 30 this year and Brexit are set to present opportunities to arable farmers, he said as the firm launched a report entitled British Sugar: a homegrown success story.

He underlined the contribution of the UK beet sugar industry to the UK communities in which it operates, pointing out that his firm works with 3,500 growers, employs 1,400 people and supports a further 9,500 skilled jobs across the UK, while it supports up to 9,500 jobs in the wider UK economy.

“Over the past 100 years we have built a world-class UK beet sugar industry, contributing to local economies and communities, and benefiting UK plc,” he said.

Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar.

Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar. - Credit: Archant

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“Our investment of £250m over the past five years has made our factories the most efficient in the world. Beet sugar yields in the UK have improved by more than 25% in the last 10 years. Our focus on improving efficiency and reducing waste has led to a range of co-products.”

The firm generates enough electricity to power a city the size of Peterborough, produces up to 70 million litres of bioethanol annually and used its topsoil to landscape the Olympic Park, he said.

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“We are one of Britain’s most globally competitive industries and we are ready to work with farmers, importers and government to design a UK sugar policy that allows our world-leading domestic sugar industry to continue to thrive,” he said.

William Martin, chairman of National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Sugar said: “The dismantlement of the EU Sugar regime and Brexit will present opportunities for arable farmers in the beet growing areas of the UK, but the real opportunities will come from beet growers and British Sugar working in partnership to maximize the returns from the market place in a new commercial environment”.

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