Sugar beet contracts: write to your MP

15 November 2023

Sugar beet growing

Photograph: Igor Stevanovic/istockphoto

Sugar beet growers have been invited to write to their constituency MPs, urging them to take action regarding the unilateral contract offered to UK growers by British Sugar for next year’s sugar beet crop.

UK sugar beet growers have been invited to write to their constituency MP urging that they approach Defra and request immediate intervention in two areas:

  1. That Defra determines the terms for the purchase of sugar beet by British Sugar with respect to the 24/25 growing season, as it is empowered to do under s.69(1) of the Food Act 1984; and
  2. That Defra strengthens the relevant legislation to avoid a repeat of the current crisis in the sugar sector.

Within two hours of the ‘Email your MP’ action going live, more than 200 growers had written to their MP urging that they take action to protect them from vulnerability as a price taker to the only buyer in the market.

We are urging sugar growers to keep the momentum going and use the link below to send a letter to their MP.

Write to your MP

The issue

British Sugar is the sole buyer and processor of sugar beet in the UK (making it a monopsony buyer). Therefore, UK sugar beet growers do not have the option to sell their sugar beet crop to any other sugar processors.

The NFU has long performed a unique role in representing all sugar beet growers in negotiating and agreeing the annual sugar beet contract on their behalf. In view of British Sugar’s monopsony in the UK sugar beet market, the NFU’s role in negotiating is critical to helping to secure a fair deal for growers.

The state of play

Farming Minister, Mark Spencer, has urged both sides to follow the established process to agree the sugar beet price. The NFU has welcomed this but clarified that this can only occur if British Sugar retracts its current sugar beet contract offer, as it was made to growers outside of the well-established process outlined above.

As of Monday 13 November, NFU understands that British Sugar has not withdrawn its unilateral offer and is reported as having no plans to do so.

Pledges continue to pour in

All the while pledges of support for NFU Sugar continue to pour in, with more than 1,200 growers having pledged their support for the vital role NFU Sugar plays in securing a fair sugar beet price for growers.

If you are a grower and would like to add your name to the pledge – please email [email protected]

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