18 January 2002

BSglitch halts retail debut of organic beet

BRITAINs first organic sugar beet crop will not make it into the shops as an organic product, following a foul-up at British Sugars Newark factory.

However, it seems the worst of the processing problems at its Wissington plant are past.

"We processed 17,177t of beet at Wissington last Friday, which is a record for this campaign and we were well above budget slice at the plant," says BSs Paul Bee.

A mechanical failure at Newark is being blamed for the contamination of the organic juice from the 10,000t organic beet crop. Ironically it became contaminated with conventionally produced sugar.

"Clearly this is a set-back for us in the sugar market, but the impact at the agricultural end of the operation is nil," says the firms John Smith.

Organic growers have already been paid and all will receive their 55% premium over conventional A and B quota prices. BSsays it will now buy imported product to supply organic customers. &#42

The company is currently contracting organic area for this spring, aiming to increase production to 20,000t, grown on about 500ha, compared with last seasons 330ha (825 acre) crop.