Bill Scott's blog

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Keeping sugar producers sweet

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The Economist has a lengthy article on the economics of sugar production – as controlled by the EU's complex set of regulations and rules.  It's worth a read for an insight into how complicated the production of a simple product (with a terrible history) is.  Both cane producers and beet producers seem unhappy, and both are looking to Brexit to make life better for them.  Their ideal outcome, of course, is for consumers to eat more of the poisonous stuff – a result that will mean more NHS resources being spooned into combatting its effects.  The article ends:

"The EU’s cane refiners—which, according to the European Commission, are based in nine member states—will find their margins squeezed as white-sugar prices fall but imported raw-sugar costs stay high. Tate & Lyle Sugars ran a €25m loss in the year to September 2015, for which it blames import restrictions. This is why the company came out in favour of a British departure from the EU: Mr Mason views Brexit as a “golden opportunity” to establish rules that treat cane and beet as equals in the British market. Beet producers have a different notion of fairness: for them, a level playing-field is one that takes into account the state support other producers receive. Precisely how the British government will keep both sides sweet is anyone’s guess."

There is a chapter on Sugar in the late Henry Hobhouse's magisterial Seeds of Change: The 6 plants that transformed mankind.  Read it for the detail of how much human misery has been bound up with the white stuff over many years.

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