SIP takes to Westminster to debate 'Future of Sugar'



The future of the sugar beet sector looks bright, as the Sugar Industry Programme met with MPs and Ministers in Westminster to highlight both young growers’ and industry professionals’ commitment towards UK sugar beet production.

The Sugar Industry Programme (SIP), jointly supported by NFU Sugar and British Sugar, held a reception for MPs in the House of Commons and met Farming Minister George Eustice to discuss the future of the UK beet sugar industry.

Participants highlighted the strength of the UK beet sugar industry throughout the whole value chain - from the farm to kitchen table, as UK beet sugar production plays a valuable part of driving the rural economy.

The SIP promoted how a successful home-grown sugar industry is good for Britain’s rural economy, good for farmers and supports around 9,500 jobs in the rural economy, primarily in East Anglia and the East Midlands.

Paul Kenward, Managing Director of British Sugar commented: “It was great to meet with many of the young people who represent the future of the sugar beet sector, and to talk to parliamentarians about how Brexit could allow us to create an even more successful beet sugar industry.  The UK sugar industry is already globally competitive, and yields from British beet farms and British Sugar factories are higher than just about anywhere.”

This year’s participants, who include growers, advisers within the industry and British Sugar young professionals, hosted alongside Jo Churchill MP a parliamentary reception of 11 MPs including Dr Charlotte Johnson MP for Sleaford & North Hykeham and Nic Dakin MP for Scunthorpe1.

Jo Churchill MP said: “It was a pleasure to host the ‘Future of Sugar’ event in Parliament on Wednesday 18th January, in connection with the National Farmers Union.”  Explaining why it was important to back UK sugar growers and the SIP, she said: “The event, bringing together young sugar beet producers and professionals in the sugar beet industry, was intended to highlight the role of our sugar industry in the future of the UK. In particular, it was a pleasure to meet young producers from across the region who indeed are the future of this vital industry.”

When meeting Farming Minister George Eustice, participants discussed the challenges and opportunities in today’s environment for the industry’s next generation. Mr Eustice said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet the next generation of the UK sugar beet industry. The young growers and professionals I met raised many important issues from mitigation of business risk, to knowledge transfer of new technologies to the need for UK growers to remain competitive. I was pleased to reassure them of the Government’s commitment to the industry now and in the future.”

Speaking after the event, James Bambridge from Nottinghamshire said: “It was really valuable to have the opportunity to discuss the farming industry directly with interested parties including the Farming Minister. Clearly the current environment is uncertain and it’s important for sugar beet growers like myself to discuss the future of our crop at the highest level. Hearing that Defra understands that farm businesses vary across the country and any future policies need to be tailored to meet the needs of specific sectors is very much appreciated. 

NFU Sugar board chairman William Martin said: “The UK beet sugar industry has a bright future. There are challenges ahead, but there are also many opportunities. The Sugar Industry Programme, which will allow participants to explore these opportunities, goes from strength to strength every year.   

“I was extremely impressed with the clear commitment these individuals have to the sugar sector and with their determination to build successful careers in the industry. They understand the value of the crop today, but they also see the potential the UK sugar beet industry has going forward. Farm resilience, strong trading relations and sustainability are the mind-sets of the ‘Future of Sugar’.”

Notes to editors

1.    In attendance: Caroline Johnson MP, Representative for Greg Knight MP, James Cartlidge MP, Jo Churchill MP, Keith Simpson MP, Lucy Frazer MP,  Matt Warman MP, Nic Dakin MP, Peter Aldous MP, Richard Bacon MP, Simon Hoare MP, Victoria Atkins MP

•    In 2010/11, NFU Sugar, in conjunction with British Sugar, launched the Sugar Industry Programme. This initiative was designed to engage younger growers through a training and development programme. 

•    Now in its seventh year, the 2017 programme will see a new group of young growers learn about the sugar beet sector in its entirety, including how the factory operates, how the NFU lobbies in Westminster, seed production and research, industry research and how the NFU influences, adopts and communicates policy to growers. 

•    For further information, please visit NFU Sugar  

•    For further comments, please contact:
Sam Ette, Press Officer, National Farmers’ Union. U2FtLmV0dGVAbmZ1Lm9yZy51aw== 024 7685 8686
Sharon Fisher, Group Communications Manager, AB Sugar.  Telephone 07809 697906 or email c2hhcm9uLmZpc2hlckBhYnN1Z2FyLmNvbQ==.

•    Photographs from the reception are available from QmV0aGFuLndpbGxpYW1zQG5mdS5vcmcudWs= 02476 858572

•    British Sugar is the leading supplier to the British and Irish food and beverage markets and operates four advanced manufacturing factories across East Anglia and the East Midlands.  For further information on British Sugar, please visit: 

•    NFU Sugar is the single entity that represents all sugar beet growers in the UK and negotiates on their collective behalf with the single processor (British Sugar Plc).

Last edited on: 24:01:2017

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