The latest BDS (Beet Delivery Service) survey results show a small decline in satisfaction, but British Sugar is taking steps to continue improving the service.
The 2021-22 NFU/British Sugar Beet Delivery Service annual report has been published and is available to read: Beet Delivery Service Annual Report
Grower satisfaction with the BDS overall and satisfaction with haulage contractors both dropped compared to last year.
However, only 95% of growers on the service rated their harvesting contractor as good or excellent, up 16% compared to last year.
Although satisfaction is generally high, we are concerned to see satisfaction falling. We expect British Sugar to continually improve the BDS and ensure it provides a gold standard service for growers opting to use it.
NFU Sugar Board vice chair Simon Smith said: “Every year throws new challenges our way, and 21/22 was no different. We started the campaign with huge pressure on driver availability and haulier costs spiralling, but little did we know that it was just the beginning of a series of challenges.
“In this context, hauliers both on and off the BDS are to be commended for (mostly) managing to keep the beet crop delivered on time, but the ongoing financial impact of this cannot be forgotten.
“The challenges of the last campaign also show the importance of resilience and ensuring commitments made can actually be fulfilled. I am pleased that British Sugar is taking a stronger interest in understanding operators’ capacities, reliance on subcontractors and the contingency built into hauliers’ plans. The year brought to life the importance of having headroom in the plan to ensure the commitments to growers can be met.
“There are now a few years of survey data to show how growers feel about the BDS. It is good to see satisfaction with the BDS in general remaining consistently high, but also concerning that each year, fewer growers feel it is adding value to their businesses, particularly in coordination. I am keen to understand how British Sugar can deliver the value that BDS should be able to bring.
Making moves to improve
“British Sugar is making significant moves this year after repeated occasions of service falling short in certain cases. I welcome this and hope it provides growers with the service they deserve. I also welcome the decision to be more conservative on volumes awarded in the tender process, which ensures growers should be able to rely on the commitment they are given.
“In this respect British Sugar still needs to address the issues that came up time and again this year regarding third party maus loading. With up to five separate parties in the contractual chain, this model is particularly affected when a delay affects any part of it. I hope the approach British Sugar adopts in 2022 addresses the inherent risks of this structure.”