Farming: Sugar

In the UK there are two manufacturers of sugar: British Sugar, who produce sugar from home-grown sugar beet; and Tate and Lyle, who import and refine raw cane sugar.

The UK consumes around 2.25 million tonnes of sugar per year, approximately 75% of which is sold direct to industrial users such as soft drinks and confectionery manufacturers. Consumption remains more or less constant, with small seasonal variations e.g. increases in ice cream and soft drink consumption in summer; and in chocolate and confectionery at Christmas and Easter.

World sugar consumption has been steadily rising over recent years, in particular in the developing world where population levels are also rising. The rise in consumption has been outstripped by the rise in production resulting in a surplus of sugar on the world market and low prices. There are around 16m tonnes of sugar in store world-wide, representing 12-13% of the current world annual consumption of around 130m tonnes. This situation is unlikely to change significantly in the foreseeable future.

Alternatives to sugar

Sugar and Sugar syrups are in competition for the industrial sweetener market with other carbohydrate syrups, notably glucose syrup produced mainly from maize or corn. In general these products are less sweet than sugar but may have other attributes which make them a preferable sweetener for some products. They are used widely in soft drinks; ice cream; baking; canning; confectionery and non-food areas such as pharmaceuticals.

Useful link

Additional information about Applying the Beet Growers Initiative Scheme can be found on the RPA website.

Applying for Beet Growers Initiative Scheme – Update 23/11/07

Page last modified: 23 November 2007
Page published: 1 July 2006