British Sugar, which processes 300,000 tonnes of granulated sugar a year at its Bury St Edmunds plant, entered a new era at the beginning of the month as the volume cap was lifted from our home grown sugar industry.
Sugar quotas no longer exist enabling the sugar beet industry, which has four plants in the UK, to grow and export on the global stage.
The end of the European sugar regime came into effect on October 1 as part of a package of reforms of the European Common Agricultural Policy.
More than 700 farmers supply sugar beet to Bury from farms in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. They grow more than two million tonnes of sugar beet a year and employ some 230 permanent and seasonal workers.
The changes will enable the British sugar beet industry to grow by as much as 50 per cent which puts an end to the need to stockpile ‘out of quota’ sugar produced during a strong harvest year.
Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, 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.
“Sugar quotas are no longer fit for purpose, and their abolition will benefit consumers and also our growers.”
The sugar beet campaign, which began in Bury on September 18, is expected to see around 1.4 million tonnes processed nationally, with beet travelling an average of only 28 miles from field to factory.
Mr Kenward added: “A surprising number of people don’t realise that half of the demand for sugar in the UK is met by home grown sugar beet. Farmers in this country have been successfully growing beet for more than a century and yields have improved by 50 per cent over the last three decades.”
At Bury the factory produces some 120,000 tonnes of animal feed from sugar beet pulp each year and the plant generates enough energy to power the site and 80,000 homes.