So it has finally happened. . . Sugar quotas ended on the 31 September 2017.
It is too early to say what the end of quotas will mean in the long term, but the industry definitely has a feeling of quiet optimism. We are seeing record acreages being harvested this campaign, and this may be the first year that we have a 200-day campaign if the factories run as predicted until the 31 March. The market is there for our home-grown sugars: we currently only supply 60% of the domestic market and are now in a position to compete in export markets across the world. Another vote of confidence came from Northern Sugar, which is looking at the feasibility of building a new sugar factory in the north of England.
A key achievement is the development of multi-year contracts, giving growers the ability to plan their finances. More than 50% of growers have committed to three-year deals demonstrating the appetite among growers for this type of stability. In addition, the market linkage element of the contract allows growers to share in high European sugar prices when they occur.
The future is not without its challenges. The removal of key plant protection products could affect our yields. The uncertainty around Brexit continues. We are working closely with British Sugar to engage with MPs and educate them about the importance of the home-grown sugar industry. We are part of an industry to be proud of, and we must make sure our legislators and the public are aware of the great story we have to tell.