Sugar beet© Tim Scrivener

A major sugar beet contractor and haulier which has gone into administration has been named as Lincolnshire-based M&J Haulage Ltd.

Auditors KPMG have been appointed administrators of the company, which harvests and hauls beet on behalf of British Sugar and a number of independent growers.

See also: Major beet contractor in technical administration

Founded by farmer’s son Mark Popplewell in 1998, M&J Haulage lifts and transports beet from Lincolnshire and the neighbouring counties into British Sugar’s Newark factory.

The company operates three harvesters and up to 20 lorries, each carrying up to five loads a day into the factory – equivalent to some 3,000t of sugar beet daily.

It also operates a self-propelled Maus beet loader from its base at Snelland, about nine miles north-east of Lincoln.

Significant throughput

At its peak, the company is said to have transported almost 500,000t of beet into Newark during a single season – accounting for about one-quarter of the factory’s throughput.

KPMG were appointed administrators on Thursday (12 October).

Farmers Weekly understands no beet was lifted by M&J Haulage over the weekend, with the company’s harvesters standing still on what would usually have been a busy two days.

Some 24 full-time jobs are believed to be at risk.

Knock-on effects

NFU Sugar, which represents growers, has warned that farmers could feel the knock-on effects of the financial difficulties suffered by the company.

A number of local growers with beet in the ground have expressed concern that their crop might not now be lifted and taken for processing.

British Sugar says it has contingency plans in the event the business ceases trading.

The processing giant says it has already identified other contractors to step into contracts if required to make sure beet is lifted and hauled.

Unclear arrangements

However, M&J Haulage lifts and carts some beet independently of British Sugar and it is unclear what arrangements, if any, are in place for those growers.

As well as sugar beet, M&J Haulage has farmed land on short- and long-term leases on various agreements, growing combinable crops.

The company expanded into drilling sugar beet in the early 2000s and moved quickly into offering a full beet growing, lifting and haulage service.