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The European sugar industry in more detail

Sugar is an unusual market.

Beet and cane sugar are chemically identical but come from completely different supply chains and are made in different factories.

Beet sugar is made in 19 EU member states whilst cane refining only exists in a handful.

This means that although there is a single EU market in sugar, protectionist EU sugar and trade policies favour beet producers.

These policies limit who cane refiners can buy cane sugar from to around 5% of global trade in sugar and on some of that charge us eye-watering import tariffs.

In contrast, beet producers in many member states are directly subsidised and the beet industry is being deregulated in 2017.

In 2015 alone these EU policies artificially inflated Tate & Lyle Sugars’ raw cane sugar bill by £34million.

The result was a £21 million loss to the company.

Tate & Lyle Sugars’ London refinery has had to downsize by 50% since 2009. Imported beet sugar has made up the gap in the market.

We estimate the added value lost to the UK economy is over £50 million per year.

But all of this can now change.

About Tate & Lyle Sugars

We’ve been refining cane sugar on the banks of the Thames since 1878 when Henry Tate and Abram Lyle opened their first cane sugar refineries in east London.

We’ve been refining cane sugar on the banks of the Thames since 1878 when Henry Tate and Abram Lyle opened their first cane sugar refineries in east London.

Beet sugar came to the UK in 1912 and for most of the years since we have happily co-existed with Britain’s beet sugar producers, bringing choice and competition to UK consumers.

Our brands are some of the most recognised in UK households, as well as around the world.

Lyle’s Golden Syrup has been produced unchanged in Abram Lyle’s original refinery since 1881 and holds the record of being the oldest unchanged brand packaging in the world.

For more information on our position on Brexit, please download the letter to colleagues sent during the referendum campaign:

Read the Letter to Colleagues