UK sugar industry ‘could grow by up to 50%’ as quotas end, British Sugar believes
- Credit: Su Anderson
The British beet sugar industry could grow by up to 50% after a longstanding national quota regime came to an end on October 1, the industry believes.
British Sugar, which has a factory at Bury St Edmunds and others across the East of England, hailed the deregulation of the European sugar market as “great news for Britain”.
The move means it will be able to sell home-grown sugar without an artificial volume cap for the first time since 1968, opening up overseas opportunities.
Deregulation was agreed by European Union (EU) ministers back in 2013 as part of a package of reforms of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
British Sugar believes liberalisation is an opportunity for a highly productive British industry to expand.
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“The change gives the British beet sugar industry, which is the one of the most efficient in the world, an opportunity to grow by as much as 50%, putting an end to a requirement to stockpile out-of-quota sugar produced during strong harvest years,” it said.
Managing director Paul Kenward said: “This is a red letter day for the home-grown sugar industry. It gives us an opportunity to grow and prosper with no limit on the amount of sugar we can sell in the UK, Europe and around the world.
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“Sugar quotas are no longer fit for purpose, and their abolition will benefit consumers, and also our growers.
“The remarkable progress made in recent years to transform the European sugar sector is due in no small measure to the efforts of the UK government, which has consistently backed a more free-market approach.
He added that “a surprising number” of consumers didn’t realise that half of all demand for sugar in the UK was met by home-grown sugar beet, much of which is grown by East Anglian farmers.
British Sugar is the sole processor of the UK’s sugar beet crop, and supplies around 60% of UK demand.
“Farmers in this country have been successfully growing beet for more than a century and yields have improved by 50% over the last three decades,” said Mr Kenward.
“Combined with substantial productivity gains and £250m investment in our manufacturing plants, we’re proud to be ranked among the lowest cost beet sugar producers in the world.”
British Sugar, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, sells its sugar to UK consumers under the Silver Spoon brand, as well as supermarket own labels.
The British beet sugar industry works with 7,000 businesses including 3,500 growers, and supports 9,500 jobs throughout the economy.