Contract price and packages will remain a priority in 2023

Michael Sly

Michael Sly

NFU Sugar Board chair

First published: 30 December 2022

An image of Michael Sly stood in a field of unharvested sugar beet crop

In his New Year message, NFU Sugar Board chair Michael Sly looks at the impact of draught and beet moth on 2022 sugar yields, and addresses the need for contract prices that deliver for growers.

This has been a challenging year for the sugar sector.

Drought and beet moth have conspired to restrict yields across the growing area, while the associated symptoms have further complicated our fight against the old enemy: virus yellows.

The campaign got off to a slow start – it wasn’t until the second half of October that all four factories were open.

2022 challenges rolling into 2023

Continued mild weather throughout the autumn and into early winter ensured that lifting conditions remained good, but we still anticipate a harvest below the five-year average.

The challenges associated with pests, disease and a changing climate aren’t going away as we move into 2023, and beet moth in particular will certainly remain on our radar.

“Negotiating an appropriate contract price and package for 2023/24 will remain very much a priority”

NFU Sugar Board chair Michael Sly

Plant protection and innovation

NFU Sugar will remain focused on ensuring that growers have access to the full suite of plant protection products they require for the 2023 crop, and we continue to work closely with the British Beet Research Organisation to ensure that growers remain abreast of the latest innovations in plant productivity and protection.

Ensuring contract prices reward growers

We anticipate a greater beet area this year as growers respond to the £40/t contract, but this price is exactly where it needs to be in light of continued sky-high input costs and the increased associated challenges facing sugar beet.

Negotiating an appropriate contract price and package for 2023/24 will remain very much a priority.

The futures-linked contract delivered returns of over £43/t last autumn and we look forward to rolling this option out further this year, allowing growers greater empowerment to manage the risks and rewards in the sugar market.

We will continue to support industry work to increase growers’ understanding of the environmental impacts of sugar beet and ensure growers can proactively benefit from the opportunities of the transition to net zero.

Your President's New Year message

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