sugar beet sweet combine harvester farm

The coming abolition of EU sugar beet quotas has already left a sour taste in the mouths of Fairtrade farmers, with £53.8m wiped off UK certified sugar sales, The Grocer can reveal.

Sales of Fairtrade sugar have crashed 49.9% on volumes down 56% [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 8 November 2015], a decline of 51 million kilos.

This was due to ramped up production by European beet farmers in anticipation of the scrapping of quotas next year, said Fairtrade Foundation CEO Michael Gidney. “The EU is flooding the market with subsidised beet,” he said. “That’s made cane sugar of any kind from Afro-Caribbean countries more expensive in relative terms, so Fairtrade has suffered.”

Limits on production for European consumption will be abolished in September 2017. EU prices are now 50% beneath their 2011 peak, according to Mintec.