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The UK Sugar business

At present, most of the sugar consumed in Britain comes from sugar beet that is grown and processed in this country by around 3,000 growers of sugar beet – a sweet root vegetable that looks like a turnip – by the country’s sole refiner British Sugar which operates four sites across east Anglia and the east Midlands. The company however could be facing a problem.

with the new UK-Australia trade deal. The two governments have reached a free trade agreement that will see a duty-free quota of 80,000 tonnes of Australian cane sugar enter the UK in 2021. This amount will increase by 20,000 tonnes every year for an eight-year period, after which there will be no restrictive tariffs. Consequently, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has said that British beet growers will not be able to compete with Australian cane sugar because Australian growers are allowed to use plant protection products that are banned for use in the UK.


The demand for sugar here in the UK is around 2 million tonnes annually.

  • Approx. 85% is for food and drink
  • Approx. 15% is used within the Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes sector
  • The majority of UK consumer consumption is in the form of refined granulated sugar.
  • Approx. 60% comes from home-grown beet sugar
  • Approx. 15% comes from the EU.
    Approx. 25% comes from imported raw cane sugar, which is refined by Tate & Lyle Sugars at a single refinery at Silvertown in the East End of London. Thames refinery and Plaistow Wharf are located one mile from each other in London. Thames refinery is the largest sugar refinery in the EU and one of the largest in the world, with a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per annum.
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