NFU Sugar: how we're working for our members

12 August 2021

Read how at NFU Sugar we're working for our members on a number of issues, and read about our recent wins.

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NFU Sugar priorities

Sustain and improve profitability
NFU Sugar strives to represent the interests of the UK’s sugar beet growers by working to sustain and improve their farms' profitability. 

Annual negotiation with British Sugar
Our objective is to maximise grower returns through the annual negotiation with the sole buyer of UK sugar beet – British Sugar. 

Presence at factories
NFU Sugar has team members at each of the four British Sugar factories to monitor deliveries of beet and ensure loads from each grower are treated and sampled fairly with the correct results for each load.

Value to growers
We work with and challenge British Sugar when necessary to provide value to growers. For example, in the Beet Delivery Service and Joint Seed Working Group. We also work with British Sugar on advocacy issues, not least Virus Yellows. 

Championing positive perception
We also champion the needs of the sector to sustain a positive perception of the home-grown sugar industry and are pushing to improve transparency across the supply chain. 

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NFU Sugar successes 2020/2021

Securing plant protection products

NFU Sugar has lobbied to ensure growers have access to appropriate plant protection products. This work secured emergency approval for the insecticide Insyst, as well as emergency approval for Vydate for nematode control for the 2021 season.

The team also achieved an emergency authorisation for the neonicotinoid seed treatment, Cruiser SB, for the 2021 season, subject to the Rothamsted Virus Yellows forecast.

Following the low-risk Virus Yellows forecast, the economic treatment threshold for use of Cruiser SB was not triggered as the risk to the 2021 crop was forecasted to be low.

NFU Sugar continues to lobby for a more science-based, fit-for-purpose PPP regulatory regime to allow growers to access the tools they need to protect their crops.

Challenging zero-tariff quotas

NFU Sugar has challenged the introduction of the zero tariff quota for raw sugar post-Brexit with MPs, officials and in the press, fighting for UK beet growers and the standards we produce to.

Futures-linked beet contracts

NFU Sugar has worked to secure a pilot of the first ever futures-linked beet contract, giving growers the ability to make their own pricing decisions and take the opportunities presented by the world sugar market.

This is the first beet contract of its kind anywhere in the world and allows growers and British Sugar to price independently of each other, creating a win-win opportunity within the industry.

To date, this has given growers the opportunity to sell beet over £9/t above the standard one-year beet contract price, a price premium of more than 40%.

Virus Yellows assurance fund

NFU Sugar negotiated a unique Virus Yellows assurance fund as part of the beet contract package, complementing the frost insurance already offered to growers, to help mitigate the risks of growing the crop.

This fund, worth £12m over three years, represents a significant step change in the approach towards growers we have secured from British Sugar, acknowledging that risks cannot solely be borne by growers.

Responding to consultations

NFU Sugar has lobbied on growers’ behalf during various government and external consultations including: Red Tractor crops and sugar standards consultation, National Action Plan (pesticides) consultation, Farming Rules for Water consultation, genetic technologies (gene editing) consultation and urea fertiliser consultation. 

British Sugar Future Tarehouse Project

NFU Sugar has represented growers’ interests in the joint NFU Sugar and British Sugar Future Tarehouse Project – a multimillion pound project to upgrade and improve the beet intake and testing functions at all the factories. 

This was done with a view to ensuring British Sugar select the best process for sampling the beet deliveries to each site and testing the subsequent samples sent to the Tarehouse.

British Sugar’s mileage scheme pilot

NFU Sugar has secured £100,000 back to growers who had participated in British Sugar’s mileage scheme pilot following an extensive audit of the system and changes made to growers’ paid routes.

These changes also ensure the system is fit for purpose as it is rolled out across more growers in the future.

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