Saturday, December 9, 2023

Sugar beet growers enlist MP help to secure fair price from sole UK buyer

Hundreds of sugar beet growers have enlisted the support of their MPs with a plea to intervene in a feud over a unilateral contract offered to growers for next year’s crop by British Sugar – the UK’s only purchaser.

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:

Within two hours of a call to action urging them to email their MP more than 200 growers had done so, urging that they take action to protect them from vulnerability as a price taker to the only buyer in the market.

British Sugar is the sole buyer and processor of sugar beet in the UK. 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.

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As of this week, the NFU understands that British Sugar has not withdrawn its unilateral offer and is reported as having no plans to do so.

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