Tesco drops the Suffolk-produced Silver Spoon sugar in favour of rival
- Credit: Staff
Sugar beet growers across Suffolk and beyond are “hugely disappointed” at a decision from Tesco to stop stocking Silver Spoon – the bulk of which is packaged in Bury St Edmunds.
Critics have been quick to point out the sugar beet factory in Bury lies less than 400m from the town’s Tesco supermarket, yet the company has instead opted to stock Tate and Lyle granulated sugar which is imported from thousands of miles away.
The recently-appointed chairman of the National Farmers’ Union, Michael Sly, said the sugar beet industry across the east of England supported just under 10,000 jobs.
“NFU Sugar and its growers are hugely disappointed that Tesco is no longer selling Silver Spoon sugar which is proudly grown by British sugar beet producers,” said Mr Sly.
“Not only is it a great product, the sugar beet industry makes an important contribution to the rural economy and supports 9,500 jobs across eastern England.
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“What makes it even more frustrating is that Tesco has chosen to deny consumers the choice of buying home-grown sugar which is produced sustainably, benefitting both the economy and the environment alike.”
In response, a Tesco spokesman said it was putting its customers first to keep prices down.
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While he did not specifically refer to Silver Spoon, the spokesman said: “Our aim is to always provide the best possible quality and prices to our customers.
“We continue to scrutinise any proposed cost increases from our suppliers to avoid any unjustified or unnecessary increases in price.”
The managing director of British Sugar, Paul Kenward, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
However, he previously told the Farmers Weekly magazine that Tesco’s decision was “perverse”.
“The supermarkets in their marketing make a great play of supporting British food and locally grown produce,” he said.
“But all too often – when it comes to a contract stage and they get presented with a choice – for fractions of pennies they will go the other way.”
He also went on to say the positive side for sugar beet growers was that bagged sugar accounted for just 15% of the UK market – with most going to food and drink manufacturers.
Facts and figures
The iconic British Sugar factory has towered over Bury St Edmunds for decades and houses its sister company Silver Spoon’s main distribution depot.
The Bury Silver Spoon plant has the capacity to produce more than 4,000,000 1kg packs of granulated sugar per week.
Silver Spoon sugar, produced with British sugar beet, was rolled out nationally in 1972.
The Bury packaging complex is the company’s largest packing site, featuring the most modern packaging plant in Europe, responsible for producing 70% of Silver Spoon’s 1kg packs of granulated sugar.
Every year, 2,000,000 tonnes of sugar beet are produced by 1,000 UK growers – with the average distance just 28 miles from the factory.
The British Sugar site processes 14,000 tonnes of sugar beet per day during the beet processing campaign. By contrast, the sugar in Tate and Lyle packages originates from raw sugar cane, which is grown overseas.