Sweet Success Season Starts with Victory at Silverstone

Dec 29 2013

Ragus’ association with the famous Ecurie Ecosse racing team in 2013 could not have enjoyed a better start, when the legendary Scottish team scored victory in the GTC class of the opening round of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) at a rain-soaked Silverstone on April 13th.

Ecurie Ecosse famously won the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1956 and 1957, and now, with the team under the guardianship of Hugh McCaig, they plan to return to the world’s greatest endurance event in 2014.

Ecurie Ecosse Silverstone Victory

Ragus sponsored Ecurie Ecosse GT3 wins again at Silverstone.

Building on the success of their 2012 season, during which the team only narrowly missed out on winning the coveted British GT Championship, Ecurie Ecosse entered the 3 Hours of Silverstone, an event sanctioned by the organisers of the Le Mans race – the Automobile Club de l’Oeust – to gain valuable experience in the world of long distance racing.

Torrential rain made for extremely difficult driving conditions around the hallowed Silverstone track. Eventually the race was halted early, as standing water on the circuit made racing impossible. But, to the delight of Ecurie Ecosse, their BMW Z4 GT3, driven by Ollie Millroy, Andrew Smith and Alasdair McCaig was leading the GTC class at the time of the stoppage.

Victory in the team’s European Le Mans Series debut was a great reward for Ecurie Ecosse and their loyal team of supporters, including Ragus, whose new logo is displayed on the front and rear of the BMW.

Ben Eastick of Ragus explains; “Here at Ragus we are a forward-thinking and progressive company, and the high speed world of endurance motor racing is an excellent way to promote our brand. We were proud and privileged to be associated with the Ecurie Ecosse team during the 2012 season and we are delighted to continue our involvement this season. Victory at Silverstone was especially rewarding as the race was the first European Le Mans Series race of 2013. We share Ecurie Ecosse’s desire to succeed at the highest level and that is one reason we find this such a positive relationship.”

Hugh McCaig, Ecurie Ecosse Team Principal says; “Our inaugural European Le Mans Series race was certainly a baptism! The conditions during practice and the race were changeable and unpredictable, but the whole team adopted a sensible driving approach. We scored a brilliant class victory and finished tenth overall. This was a superb effort by the whole team. To win on our ELMS debut demonstrates our determination to win at the very highest level of the sport in endurance racing. This is only possible with the help and support of partners, like Ragus, who share our philosophy to succeed.”

The Ragus-supported Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 will be in action in the second round of the British GT Championship at Rockingham, Northants, on May 5th before heading to the Imola circuit in Italy for the second round of the European Le Mans Series on May 17-18th.

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EU Agriculture Council Veto MEPs Decision

Dec 28 2013

The recent decision by European MEPs to preserve the EU system of national sugar production quotas and minimum sugar beet prices until at least 2019/20 has been overturned by The Agriculture Council of EU farm ministers who have voted to abolish the system on 1st October 2017, albeit two years after the original deadline of 2015.The Commité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre (CEFS) said it was “deeply disappointed with the Council’s agreement” after welcoming the earlier decision by MEPs.

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Ragus' New Factory Prepares British Success Story for a new Phase of Growth

Dec 21 2013

As you know I often blog about industry issues. But today, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to chat about a landmark for us – the opening of our new factory.

Ragus-New-Factory

The new Ragus factory

It’s a great moment for a number of reasons:

1. Serving you: We’re better able to serve you, our customers.

2. Made in Britain: Most of our factory’s equipment was made in Britain. And while the UK manufacturing industry is much maligned, it’s in much better health than the media would have you believe with world-leaders in their field dotted across the country. I must give a special mention to Musk Engineering – a British firm – that on time, to budget and with great quality, custom-made most of our production line systems.

 3. Helping our home: We’re a Slough-based business. The large investment we’ve made in the site shows the confidence we have in our community and the skills of the people who work in it. And of course the location is great for Heathrow and the overseas travel we make to source our raw materials.

4. Being Bold: Global business leaders have for years said that investing in a recession puts you in a strong position to get out of the blocks fast when things change. We took the advice but taking the plunge and building our new home in the downturn caused us a few sleepless nights. We wouldn’t be human if it didn’t. But our business is in great shape and with signs of economic recovery, we’re in a strong position to grow and invest more. That has to be good news.

What this means to customers We can give even higher levels of service to customers now. The new site is a world-class production facility. We’ve far more capacity, we’ve new systems to track and trace from source to manufacturing and on to final product, and the processing of raw materials and distribution of final product are highly efficient. We can meet any need from bespoke sugar and syrup through to bulk delivery of sugars. And what’s more, we aim to improve our on time in full (OTIF) figure for customer deliveries that already runs at 99.7 per cent.

As you’d expect, our factory is accredited to all food production standards including ISO14001 and BRC Global Standard Delivery. It has the latest machinery for the highly efficient drying, sieving, screening, blending and bagging of sugar along with custom-made stainless steel syrup inversion pans and syrup storage tanks. And it will significantly cut power and water usage, compared to our previous factory. It will therefore help us to achieve our promise to reduce carbon emissions year-on-year.

We are very proud of our new factory and will be showing press and customers around soon. Have a great 2013.

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Sugar Supply/Demand At Equilibrium

Dec 19 2013

Cane Sugar Harvesting
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cane sugar harvesting in Guadeloupe.

Market Position

Global trading and consumption of sugar is now at record levels as consumers have reacted to lower prices. Refined sugar has been price competitive with High Fructose Corn Syrup, which has resulted in the increased usage of sugar on the world market. The estimated global sugar production surplus for 2013/14 is 2 million tonnes from a total production estimate of 181.8 mln tonnes. This figure is lower than predicted earlier in the year as a result of production problems in Brazil and lower beet sugar production in Europe, although southern hemisphere crops of Australia and South Africa have seen significant improvements. The sugar market is now close to equilibrium for supply and demand, but prices have now fallen below the costs of most of the world’s producers, so current prices will become unsustainable over the next 12 months.

Europe

The cold start to the year followed by a wet spring caused slow germination and initial growth resulting in sucrose yields below the five year averages. The sustained good weather during the summer months has significantly improved the growth and sugar content of the beets and if these conditions continue through September, the crop should regain from the slow start earlier in the year. Either way, production quotas will be achieved.

Brazil

Extra replanting of cane had expectations of an increase in cane availability, but since the beginning of the crop heavy rainfall hit the centre-south region from May until July, which disrupted the cane harvesting. The result will see harvesting into the tail end of the crop, with the possibility of cane being stood over until the 2014/15 season. Crushing is currently at its peak, although frosts in the south of the country have resulted in reduced cane and sucrose yields. The forecast for the 2012/13 crop is 585 mln tonnes, producing 34.1 mln tonnes of sugar. Currently 47.8% of cane crushed goes towards sugar production, low ethanol prices of 16 cents/lb should result in more cane being diverted to sugar production.

Thailand

An estimated third consecutive year of record production for the 2013/14 crop will improve on last season’s 100 mln tonnes of cane that produced 10 mln tonnes of sugar, now that the rainy season has ended.

India

Cane irrigation has been limited in Maharashtra as the monsoon eased, although an abundance of rain continues in Uttar Pradesh. Overall the monsoon season has had a positive effect on cane yields. The estimated sugar production for the 2013/14 crop stands at 25.8 mln tonnes. The devaluation of the Rupee should result in mills exporting sugar onto the world market.

Pakistan

A rise in planted acreage and an early start to the monsoon season has improved yields to new highs and a bumper crop for 2013/14 is expected. Recent flooding may result in the estimated production of 5.7 mln tonnes of sugar not being produced, although the harvest is likely to exceed last season’s 4.8 mln tonnes. Like India the weak Rupee should result in mills exporting sugar onto the world market.

South Africa

The harvest continues to perform well with an estimated increase of 20% over last season. The industry is expected to produce 2.57 mln tonnes of sugar from the 2013/14 crop. The excellent crop has reduced domestic prices which have further reduced due to Brazilian white sugar imports, resulting in the industry claiming to make a loss selling sugar at world market prices.

Australia

The estimates for the 2013/14 crop is expected to produce 4.47 mln tonnes sugar, similar to last year’s tonnage as the harvest approaches the halfway mark. Much of the country is experiencing ideal crushing conditions due to the dry weather since June, which has improved the sucrose content.

USA/Mexico

USDA is lowering its projection for domestic sugar beet production this season following double the normal rainfall levels in May/June, followed by 76% below normal rainfall in July/August, reducing beet yields. Mexico’s cane crop suffered from a very dry July/August, although rains at the end of August should improve the prospects for the 2013/14 production, which is estimated at 6.8 mln tonnes of sugar.

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EU Sugar Quotas To Remain Until 2019/20

Dec 18 2013

European Union MEPs voted last Wednesday to preserve the EU system of production sugar quotas until at least 2019/20. This reverses the previous commitment by the 27 member states to end the scheme by 2015. This decisions is at odds with the trend towards greater liberalisation of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The wholesale price of sugar in the EU is at its highest since the current regime started in 2006, nearly 50 per cent higher than world market prices. MEPs are defending the production quotas as a way of protecting EU farmers (particularly in France and Germany) against volatile world market prices.

Importation of Cane Raw Sugar as a result of the vote will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.

sugar-beet-growing-in-europe

Sugar beet growing in Europe.

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Strong points haulfor Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3at Oulton Park

Dec 10 2013

Ecurie Ecosse began their 2013 British GT Championship campaign with a pair of strong finishes at Oulton Park yesterday (1 April).
The Ecosse duo of Oliver Bryant and Marco Attard quickly got to grips with the Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3 to take a fine sixth place in the first race of the day. Attard maintained his qualifying pace and after a solid and consistent stint handed over to Bryant in eighth position. Bryant then engaged in a thrilling battle which saw five cars fighting for third place.

Ragus Sponsored Ecurie Ecosse GT3

Ragus sponsored Ecurie Ecosse GT3 takes 3rd at Oulton Park.

Following an off-track excursion caused by contact from Alan Simonsen in the Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 Bryant set about making up for lost time, consistently lapping quicker than those in front on his way to a strong sixth place overall finish.

Race two was equally competitive. Bryant started and lost touch with the lead pack while battling with Rob Barff (Ferrari 458) and Joe Osborne (BMW Z4 GT3), but made up a huge amount of time with a very impressive ‘in lap’ and speedy pit work from the Barwell crew. As things settled down Attard emerged in sixth spot. After making more progress the race was neutralised for a car on fire, bunching the field up.

With two laps to go the safety car came in and Attard drove fantastically. After a superb pass on the Jay Palmer Ferrari he took third overall, a performance that netted him the coveted ‘Mobil 1 Driver of the Weekend’ award.

Ecurie Ecosse now lie third in the championship following the first two rounds and were consistently the fastest BMW throughout the weekend.

The sister BMW Z4 GT3 driven by Piers and Ron Johnson under the ‘Ecurie Ecosse with Barwell Motorsport’ banner finished 16th and 17th in the two races, maintaining Ecosse’s 100% finishing record in all the events in which the team has entered since it was reformed in 2011.

Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal: “We’ve been working hard and have made the solid championship start that we deserve. Marco, Olly and the team did a fantastic job and we’re now looking forward to the longer races.”

Oliver Bryant, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “Hats off to Marco and the team for an excellent job this weekend. We know the key is to be quick and consistent and to stay out of trouble. A huge amount of work has gone in from everyone at Ecurie Ecosse and Barwell Motorsport in the off-season to pull this deal together so a podium is very rewarding!”

Marco Attard, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “What a great result at Oulton Park following two eventful races! Thanks to the Barwell crew who did a great job, our engineers Andy and Adam and the whole Ecurie Ecosse team, not forgetting Olly Bryant who drove two great races and was a huge support to me.”

The next rounds of the British GT Championship take place at Rockingham on 6 May. Before that the team turns it’s attentions to the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone (13 April) where the car will compete for honours in the GTC class driven by Ollie Millroy, Andrew Smith and Alasdair McCaig.

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