• Cane refiners assist in delivering Europe's development goals as they use different raw material for sugar

Press Releases

The end of the cane sugar industry in Europe?

Brussels, 29 November 2012The European Sugar Refineries Association (ESRA) asks The European Parliament to avoid legislation that would largely destroy the cane sugar refining industry in Europe. The current proposal for the reform of the agricultural markets could irreparably damage competition in food markets, which fundamentally contradicts the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Cane sugar refining has been a successful European manufacturing industry which has coexisted with other sweetener producers for over 100 years. Cane refiners are competitive sugar producers that contribute to food security in Europe, by producing an essential commodity from a different raw material and manufacturing model.

Cane refiners also provide developing countries a stable and long-term market for their raw sugar. Moreover, cane refiners stimulate a healthy competition in a market otherwise dominated by beet sugar processors and protected by punitively high import duties.

As the reform of the agricultural markets is being debated, ESRA asks the European Parliament to avoid legislation that would:

  • Largely damage Europe´s cane sugar refining industry: Without access to raw material up to 4.500 direct jobs could be lost at this time of crisis and high unemployment, as most cane refining factories across Europe would be forced to close. Many more indirect jobs will also be threatened.
  • Damage competition and choice in food markets: The five companies currently dominating sugar production in Europe will gain even more control as the cane sugar industry goes out of business. Damaging competition will result into reduced choice and higher prices for the food and drink industry and ultimately European consumers.
  • Contradict the objectives of the CAP: Between 2006 and 2010 Europe spent €5 billion reducing beet sugar production quotas to achieve a sustainable and competitive sugar market. Any new legislation should respect that investment and foster a market oriented policy. To allow a new increase of the beet sugar production would be an incoherent policy U-turn. 

Cane refiners should not be treated as the residual operators in the sugar market, after other stakeholders have their market shares allocated. Without parallel treatment by legislation, Europe’s cane refiners will face increasing unfairness with regards to access to raw material. Only fair terms of competition between the different sweetener producers will truly achieve a sustainable and competitive sugar market in the EU.

ESRA, the European Sugar Refineries Association, calls upon the European Parliament to shape a sugar market that gives parallel opportunities to all. Refiners, users, and consumers deserve it.

About ESRA: The European Sugar Refineries Association represents 26 full-time cane sugar refineries located in 8 EU Member States. ESRA supports a sugar market reform which recognises and respects the key role cane sugar refiners play in the EU.

Media contact: Laura Girol, ESRA’s Executive Director laura.girol@sugarrefineries.eu +32 (0)484 915 433

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