BREXIT: the position of the European sugar sector

Jun 29 2018

CEFS-CIBE POSITION ON BREXIT

EU beet sugar manufacturers, represented by CEFS, and sugar beet growers, represented by CIBE, regret the departure of the UK from the EU.[1]

We remain convinced that the best option to avoid disruption of EU-UK trade and of the EU sugar market itself would be for the UK to remain in the Single Market and customs union.

Given that these options seem less likely under the current UK government, we would like to highlight a number of concerns.

Beet sugar being grown; Ragus supports all its farmers and producers with advice and support on how to optimiseefficiencies, and promote the cause of sustainable sugar production

 

Transition period

CEFS and CIBE welcome the proposal of the European Commission for a status quo transition period to cover the period between the official departure of the UK from the EU in March 2019 and the entry into force of a new EU-UK trading arrangement.

We call for flexibility concerning the duration of this transition period in the light of past experience. No EU trade agreement has been concluded and provisionally applied in 21 months. Should no agreement be in place by 31 December 2020, the transition period should be extended in order to avoid a ‘trade gap’ and consequent disruption of sugar trade flows between the EU and the UK.

Future EU-UK trading arrangement

After Brexit, the UK will be a major third country export market for beet sugar from the EU-27. The UK is a deficit sugar market and depends on EU exports to meet domestic consumption. It is therefore essential that sugar producers in the EU-27 retain current access to the UK market with minimal disruption during the period of negotiation and implementation of the new trading arrangement.

The trade policy that the UK government looks likely to pursue raises risks. A reduction of duties applied to imports of raw sugar for refining would result in increased quantities of refined cane sugar on the UK market. This could prompt an increase in exports of UK beet sugar to the EU: in other words, triangular trade. We call on the European Commission to take steps to prevent this.

The current status of the UK as an EU Member State must not prejudice the discussions on rules of origin. In line with the EU’s other bilateral trade agreements, the refining of imported, third country cane sugar must not confer origin under the new trading arrangement. Non-originating sugar used in the manufacture of processed products to be traded under preference must be subject to an upper threshold by weight. Cumulation of origin must be prohibited.

The EU’s existing market access concessions

The EU’s concessions on sugar were negotiated as a bloc of 28 Member States. These concessions must be fairly divided between the UK and the EU-27 to reflect the respective import shares of each partner. This goes for the EU’s WTO (‘CXL’) tariff-rate quotas and for the bilateral quotas, most notably with Central America and South Africa.

The EU beet sugar sector cannot afford the increase in real market access for third countries that would result from maintaining the EU-28 quotas at their current level for a diminished EU. Leaving the Central America and South Africa TRQs undivided would result in an increase in real third country market access to the EU-27 of 120,000 tonnes, based on historical quota utilisation rates.

The EU sugar sector’s request

– The duration of the transition period must be as long as necessary in order to avoid any disruption of trade between the EU and the UK. Maintaining current EU-27 access to the UK market – and vice versa – is a priority for the members of CEFS and CIBE.

– After Brexit, the UK will be a major third country market for beet sugar from the EU-27. It is therefore essential that sugar producers of the EU-27 retain the current access to the UK market without disruptions.

– If keeping the UK in the customs union is not viable, the EU must put mechanisms in place to ensure that it is not a victim of triangular trade in sugar.

– The EU’s existing market access concessions must be fairly shared between the EU and the UK. This goes for the EU’s WTO (‘CXL’) quotas, as well as for those bilateral quotas with partners such as Central America.

– Strict rules of origin are essential for any EU-UK free trade agreement. This means, in line with the EU’s other free trade agreements, refining must not confer the origin.[2] In addition, processed products traded between the EU and the UK must be subject to upper weight thresholds for the amount of non-originating sugar that may be used in their manufacture. Cumulation of origin must be prohibited

– The European Commission, Parliament, and Member States must take Brexit into account in the context of ongoing and upcoming trade negotiations with Mercosur, Mexico, and Australia. The EU must henceforth engage in free trade negotiations as a Union of 27, not 28, Member States.

[1] CEFS’ UK membership did not participate in the formulation of this statement and as such should not be assumed to have agreed or disagreed with its content.

[2] In customs terms, this means that the manufacture of products falling under HS heading 1701 must be subject to at least a change in tariff heading in order to benefit from bilateral preferences.

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PLANT-BASED FOOD SEES A HEALTHY GROWTH

Jun 25 2018

Every year we see new food and drink trends appearing in the industry. 2018 is tipped to be the year of multisensory food and drink as consumers want textured food which appeals to their sensors, and now we’re approaching the middle of the year a new trend is becoming more apparent; a plant-based food trend is taking the food and drink industry by storm.

Plant-based diets are often shown to be good for health and already supermarkets are, and have been stocking some plant-based food and drinks for years, such as Quorn, Alpro and Cauldron products to name but a few, but now other major companies are eager to jump on the plant-based band wagon.

The worlds largest food and drink company Nestle, now wants in on the action with its launch, last month, of their Garden Gourmet range. Consisting of 12 different products including meat-free burgers, mince and beetroot falafels. UK Food Division MD Paula Jordan says, “We find that people want to enjoy a healthier diet and try to eat less meat, but they are sometimes disappointed with the taste. (The Garden Gourmet brand will) “revoluntionise the vegetarian category.”

But why the big craze? Research shows that a plant-based diet brings numerous health and well-being benefits, as it’s packed with nutrients, plus it’s also good for the environment.

The Plant Based Food Association reveal that by producing plant-based meat alternatives is better for the environment; they generate 10 x fewer greenhouse gas emissions than when beef-based products are produced. Plus Professor Peter Scarborough, University Research Lecturer and Environmental Sustainability Programme Leader, conducted a study, which revealed that plant-based eaters contribute almost half as much dietary greenhouse gases as meat-eaters, once again helping the environment.

According to Mintel research agency, 36% of consumers have or do buy plant-based meats on a regular basis and a survey conducted by 210 Analytics reveals that 60% of millennials prefer to consume plant-based meats. Likewise, according to Nielsen, cow’s milk sales declined by 5% in 2017, while the plant-based milk category has grown 3.1%; since 2013 almond milk sales have grown by over 250%.

Pure sugar produced by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

Yes, it’s proven that these plant-based diets are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of illnesses such as diabetes. Plus it can help maintain a healthy weight, which is turn could lower the risk of heart disease. Yet, it is also important that other foods and drinks containing additional sources are consumed with a plant-based diet to maintain a healthy body and digestive system. The major risks associated with a plant-based diet include inadequate protein intake, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

Interestingly sugar beet fibre (Fibrex) is used in many of these plant-based fibres; Fibrex is a dietary fibre product derived from sugar beet. Sugar beets consist of about 75% water, 18% sugar and approximately 5% cell walls. After the sugar is extracted, the remaining cell wall material, which is the sugar beet pulp, is then used to produce the sugar beet fibre/Fibrex.

Plus many of these meat-free alternative meals contain pure sugars, molasses and glucose syrups as part of their ingredients for taste, texture and appearance, all of which are products that can be supplied by Ragus. We are specialists in high quality natural pure sugars, from raw cane sugar to specialist glucose-sugar blends. For more information or if you need pure sugars as ingredients then contact sales@ragus.co.uk

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RAGUS – INSIDE THE FACTORY

Jun 14 2018

Ragus are a specialist sugar producer with a heritage that dates back over 100 years; Ragus’ founder invented golden syrup. We are dedicated to the sugar industry and we travel the globe to source sustainable sugar, and from our advanced UK sugar manufacturing facility, produce a wide range of pure sugar products.

After major investment in a new factory at the end of 2012, our UK facility is one of the world’s most advanced sugar manufacturing sites, producing hundreds of tonnes of sugars and syrups each day – from unrefined demerara sugars, to refiners syrups, molasses and treacles, to blends incorporating glucose syrups. These include highly specialised custom formulations created by our sugar experts to meet customer demands.

As a company we are 100% committed to sourcing the best sugar cane and sugar beet from around the globe, our pure sugar products are manufactured to the highest quality and our customer service is world-renowned. Our commitment to our clients goes beyond expectation and likewise with our employees we strive to make their working environment an efficient and positive environment; after all a happy work environment encourages the people who work for you to do the best for the company.

Bearing this in mind I would like to introduce you to our Factory Manager Mel Boyle, he’s been with Ragus for 13 years so I’ve interviewed him to bring you some insights into his experiences of working for the UK’s No 1 specialist sugar manufacturer.

Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

 

What is it like working for Ragus?
“Challenging!” The business never stays still; it is constantly developing and changing. I’ve worked in the factory for 13 years and it changes all the time because the business is constantly growing; from tonnage, to products out of the door, to the number of actual pure sugars and syrups we produce. Ragus just keeps expanding its client database and its produce to accommodate all of our customers’ requirements.”

What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve dealt with in your time at Ragus?
“The most challenging thing I’ve had to deal with so far was moving our factory facility 5 years ago. Due to the constant growth of the company we had outgrown the previous factory, which we had been in since 1928, so directors decided to invest a lot of money and create this new factory, which has gone beyond our expectations. This new factory is fit for purpose, the staff were allowed to have an input and we got everything we wanted to make the production run smoother and more efficiently. We now have more flexibility with the equipment, space and machinery which allows us to meet our demands now and into the future.”

Considering Ragus is a family run business do you consider yourself a part of the family?
“I’ve been with the company for over 13 years and I’m not the longest standing employee, there are other people who have been here in excess of 25 years and up! Ragus is a family business and everyone has different responsibilities. We have a lot to achieve everyday and we incur challenges on a daily basis so we have to work closely and responsibly together in order to meet our demands. Every employee has their own responsibilities but are on hand to help when and if any challenges occur.”

How many people work on the factory floor?
“We have 24 employees working in the factory; we run a very flat structure in that all of them are called ‘Production Operatives’. There are two team leaders who people will report to; if there are any problems at all we sort them out straight away.”

Do all employees receive job training?
“Yes we offer relevant training depending on the area that the employee works in. People don’t tend to move around out of their focused area, however if one area is short on staff then others will move to cover them as it’s good to take an interest in other roles to further their experience.”

What type of food safety in manufacturing courses does Ragus run?
“All employees take part in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP safety course. They also have manual handling training, fire awareness and in-depth inductions before starting a role with Ragus.”

Thanks Mel!!!

I hope this has allowed you to take more of an interest in Ragus; we are always happy to help with any of your pure sugars enquiries, just contact sales@ragus.co.uk or visit our website www.ragus.co.uk

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EU ban bee harming neonicotinoid pesticides

Jun 07 2018

According to British Farming Groups, the UK could be forced to rely heavily on imported crops following a vote to extend the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in Europe. Within the next six months the world’s most widely used insecticides will be banned from all fields in order to protect both wild and honeybees that are crucial to crop pollination.  The chemicals will however still be legal to use in closed greenhouses.

Pure sugar produced by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

 

Speaking on behalf of Pesticide Action Network Europe, Martin Dermine said: “Authorising neonicotinoids a quarter of a century ago was a mistake and led to an environmental disaster. Today’s vote is historic.” Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety agrees, added “bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”

Neonicotinoids are systematic agricultural insecticides that resemble nicotine and studies have found that there is a link between using these chemicals on crops and the declining bee population. Since 1900, 13 species of bee have been lost in the UK alone, and over 30 more species are currently at risk. The world relies on each species of bee to help pollinate plants and crops, but pesticides are playing a huge part in their demise.

Neonics are absorbed into every part of the plant, from root to the flowers and tips of the leaves, so once the plant is subjected to these chemicals bees have no chance of avoiding them. When a bee feeds on the pollen and nectar that have been contaminated with these chemicals it damages its nervous system and motor function, thus affecting its navigation, feeding, foraging and reproduction abilities.

Over recent years scientific evidence has been building up and new evidence is constantly emerging to show that neonicotinoids also contaminate the environment; hedgerows, wild flowers, other insects and animals and water sources are all being affected.

According to Friends of The Earth a recent survey revealed that 81% of the British public are in favour of the government maintaining the EU ban to help protect our wild and honeybees.

The National Farmers Union has argued that restricting the use of neonicotinoids will see a massive increase in crop damage due to insects and subsequently farmers will suffer losses. Pesticide manufacturers agree with farming groups and have accused the EU of being too cautious. Graeme Taylor, at the European Crop Protection Association said, “European agriculture will suffer as a result of this decision.”

Obviously the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs welcomed the ban, but a spokesman has said that they “recognise the impact a ban will have on farmers and (we) will continue to work with them to explore alternative approaches.”

Here at Ragus we are members of the Bee Farmers’ Association and work closely with them to maintain sugar supplies to the bee population in the UK. Ragus supply Liquid Sugar to feed the bees in autumn and Bee Candy, which is a mixture of sucrose and dextrose, crystallised into block form and placed directly on the hive during the winter months to prevent them from starving; bees don’t leave their hives in dangerously low temperatures, so this solution is given in case they run out of honey to survive on.

Ragus can also deal with supplying honey for clients who want to use it as an inclusion for their food and drink products; after all it’s a natural sugar! For more information or if you’re looking for pure sugars as ingredients for bakery, dessert, confectionery, beverage or pharmaceutical contact sales@ragus.co.uk

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