UK: Bitter row over sugar beet prices ends as higher price agreed

Sugar beet arrives at the factory at the start of the campaign at the British Sugar plant at Bury St

Sugar beet arrives at the factory at the start of the campaign at the British Sugar plant at Bury St Edmunds this week - Credit: Archant

Farmers’ leaders and British Sugar have come to an agreement over a price increase for the 2014/15 beet campaign.

The breakthrough between the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the company, which has plants across East Anglia, including at Bury St Edmunds, follows months of talks.

The price for the 2014 crop, which would have been set at £27.67/t, has been agreed at a higher level of £31.67/t.

NFU sugar board chairman William Martin said: “We are pleased to have reached a successful agreement with British Sugar on the 2014/15 sugar beet price.

“Over the past two years the NFU has highlighted problems with the current price model which has not been flexible enough to cope with changes in commodity markets. It also does not recognise the need for a higher margin relative to other crops, due to the increased risks arising from long and difficult campaigns, and the consequent effects on other crops in the rotation.


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“Through our detailed negotiations held with British Sugar since the beginning of this year there has been acknowledgment and acceptance of the need for a new way forward, resulting in the agreement of the 2014/15 price in order to address the concerns of farmers and maintain beet’s place in their rotations. The package also recognises the difficult growing seasons experienced in recent years and grower concerns relating to longer campaigns. We have also agreed to set up joint working groups to explore ways of ensuring that the beet contract meets the needs of the industry in future.

“As well as the 14 per cent uplift in the beet price we have also agreed a further enhancement to the Late Delivery Allowance to help address additional risks for the second half of the campaign: a daily increase to the base price from December 26 will mean growers delivering on February 28 will receive £35 per adjusted tonne.

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“We hope that with the price now agreed, growers will be able to complete cropping plans for the 2014 harvest.”

Growers will be receiving a new invitation to grow based on the agreement which has been reached between the National Farmers Union and British Sugar over the next few days with a new return date of 11th October for those who wish to secure contracts for the 2014/15 campaign.

British Sugar agriculture director Colm McKay said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the NFU regarding the price for the 2014 crop. The enhanced package recognises the difficult growing seasons experienced in recent years and grower concerns relating to longer campaigns. We look forward to working closely with the NFU and growers to develop a new IPA that ensures the continued competitiveness of our industry post 2017.”

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