Proposals from Brussels to shake up the sugar supply regime have been given the thumbs up by UK confectionery and soft drinks manufacturers, who claim they have been paying over the odds for years.

Brussels proposes a range of options ranging from maintaining the status quo to complete liberalisation with no quotas and no price support.

There is very little cross-border trade in sugar within the EU because of national quotas which mean UK manufacturers can effectively only buy from British Sugar or Tate & Lyle, who dominate the market. Sugar bought from outside the EU incurs hefty import taxes, said Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance director general Mike Webber.

“We pay three times the world price for sugar and 10% more than competitors within the EU. The sugar companies have a guaranteed margin and no incentive to improve.”

UK Industrial Sugar Users Group spokesman Richard Laming said: “We want to see sugar prices subject to market forces like everything else.”

A British Sugar spokesman said it wanted “sensible reform that would ensure the viability of growing and producing beet in this country.”.