The pillar of best practice

Manufacturers who have put sustainability at the centre of their operations will be best placed to cope with the extreme cost pressures that are coming to bear this year

Recent financial indicators combined with rising energy prices, could suggest some in the UK manufacturing sector will be meeting 2008 with a degree of caution. But, despite the challenges ahead, it's clear that UK manufacturers who have placed sustainability at the heart of their businesses will be best placed to benefit from such market conditions.

 While business has talked about sustainability in practice for more than a decade, I think most will agree there is still more work to do to fully utilise resources, maximise the value of our outputs and lessen the impact of industry on the environment. What became clear in 2007 is that such a commitment to sustainability is no longer considered merely 'nice to have'. Instead, it has become a crucial pillar of best practice, and there is a strong future for UK manufacturing if it is able to continue to adhere to the principles that underpin it.

 For British Sugar, high production levies and energy prices continue to put extreme cost pressures on our business. Over the past 20 years we have invested £1bn in new technologies developing sustainable outputs from our production processes, while ensuring efficient supply of raw materials. We have shown that by making advancements in technology and broadening the range of commercial outputs, we can not only improve agricultural yields, but also enable much-improved production efficiencies.

  Rising production costs will continue to bear on manufacturers this year, and some players will struggle to realise the required efficiencies or remain competitive on pricing. But while markets and costs will always fluctuate, the UK manufacturing sector as a whole is well placed to meet those challenges of the next 12 months head-on through our commitment to realising efficiencies to drive costs down, value up, and improve the service to our customers.