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Sugar grower threat after ‘critical’ system taken down

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

UK sugar beet growers face fierce competition with Europe if their isn't more investment in the industry. Picture from British Sugar
UK sugar beet growers face fierce competition with Europe if their isn't more investment in the industry. Picture from British Sugar
British sugar growers will struggle to compete with their European counterparts if Associated British Foods (ABF) does not continue to invest in the industry, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned.

The union’s criticism followed ABF taking down its online grower portal, a system the NFU said was “critical”​ to business success for UK growers.

ABF, through its subsidiary British Sugar, partners with 3,500 growers and supplies 60% of the UK’s sugar market. British Sugar processes all sugar beet grown in the UK.

Michael Sly, chairman of the NFU’s sugar board, expressed his disappointment and frustration over the take down of the system, which occurred in the middle of the sugar beet campaign.

This portal provides the information that growers and hauliers need to get beet into British Sugar factories,”​ said Sly. “It isn’t just a nice to have – it’s business critical.”

‘Interim measures’

NFU Sugar will closely monitor the effectiveness of the interim measures British Sugar puts in place to communicate with growers and hauliers.”

In April, British Sugar celebrated a ‘record’ year for sugar beet yields, as crops continued to increase over the past 10 years.

Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, said: “This has been a long and challenging campaign for our growers, our supply chain and our four factories.​​

“I am hugely proud of the record yields we’ve seen from our home-grown sugar beet and we continue to be one of the most efficient sugar industries in the world.

“However, we simply couldn’t do it without our 3,500 growers and the 9,500 people who work across our supply chain.”​​

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