A supermarket that stopped selling British-grown sugar has had a change of heart – after coming under fire from East Anglian farmers who supply the sugar beet factory across the road.
The out-of-town Tesco store at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk sparked outrage among local farmers after it stopped selling British-grown Silver Spoon sugar.
The edge-of-town store is over the road from the British Sugar factory that makes Silver Spoon sugar from locally grown sugar beet.
Instead, of selling locally grown sugar, the supermarket decided to sell Tate & Lyle sugar, refined from cane grown as far as 5,000 miles away in countries such as Belize.
However, bags of Silver Spoon – produced by British Sugar – are now back on the shelves.
NFU Sugar chairman Michael Sly welcomed the apparent change of heart, saying he was pleased the Bury St Edmunds store was selling Silver Spoon sugar again.
But he added: “We believe it is the only store to be restocked because it is next to the bagging plant.”
Mr Sly said sugar beet growers were disappointed that Tesco had decided to stop selling bags of Silver Spoon more widely in the first place.
It wasn’t about whether beet sugar or cane sugar was best, he added.
“This has denied consumers choice,” said Mr Sly, who grows sugar beet himself at Thorney, Cambridgeshire.
“You go to buy sugar and it sits there on a pallet – it is a commodity and we believe consumers should be given a choice, particularly now, to support British farmers.”
There was some good news, though, he continued.
The whole saga had highlighted the fact that British farmers grow sugar beet – something not everyone realised.
“Many people say we don’t produce sugar because it is too cold to grow cane in the UK – it beggars belief.”
British farmers are expected to produce some 8m tonnes of sugar beet this year across an estimated 107,000ha of land – mainly in East Anglia.
NFU Sugar representatives would meet Tesco over the coming months in a bid to forge a better relationship with the retailer, suggested Mr Sly.
Tesco says it regularly reviews its ranges and suppliers.
The retailer says it always aims to provide the best possible quality products to customers, avoiding any unjustified or unnecessary price increases.