6 October 1995

Delivery shortfalls could see contract cuts: British Sugar

By Philip Clarke

BRITISH Sugar is warning of possible contract cuts for some beet growers if deliveries fall below their allocated tonnage again this season.

"Last year about 30% of producers failed to match their A and B contracts," said agricultural director Chris Carter. "This year, with variable yields, anywhere between 30% and 50% may fall short."

On the plus side, this would lead to a significant "clawback", earning a better return for those producers with C beet. And with the world sugar market still relatively buoyant, Mr Carter was optimistic that 1995/96 C beet would receive about £30 per adjusted tonne delivered.

But the downside would be that some producers may face a cut in their contracts in 1997. If any individuals average delivery for the best two years out of three is below contract, then their allocation is scaled down two years later.

The NFU has asked BS to waive this part of the Inter-Professional Agreement in cases where the shortfall is due to this years exceptional weather. But BS is saying "no".

It is, however, keen to encourage maximum yields this season. "It is of great importance to the individual, to British Sugar and to the UK that growers deliver as much beet as they can," said Mr Carter.

As such, BS is launching a campaign to discourage growers from lifting too early in October and November. "As soon as the crop is out of the ground it stops growing and sugar loss through respiration speeds up," said Mr Carter. "Both lead to lost income, so growers should only lift the minimum needed to meet their delivery obligations."

To try and maximise yield, BS crops advisors will also be visiting 40% of the area to ensure that harvesting equipment is set up properly and to reduce field losses in a "quality harvesting" initiative.

Despite these efforts, Mr Carter predicted a below average harvest – certainly less than last years 1.26m tonnes.

&#8226 Interim A and Bpayments of £36.80 per adjusted tonne have been set for 1995/96 – £2.77 more than last season, reflecting this years green £ devaluations.

Final instalments for 1994/95 C beet are due to go out in November. After allowing for the £8.07/t clawback value already paid in April, and after deducting late delivery and transport allowance (not payable on C beet), this leaves £13.43/t to go out next month. This equates to a total C beet value of £26.60/t on an adjusted, delivered basis.

First delivery of the season from Suffolk sugar beet grower John Durrant waits to be sampled at British Sugars Ipswich factory on Tuesday. Lifted from heavy land at Foxes Farm, Battisford, the crop yielded 18t/acre and was sampled at 7.5% crown tare, 3.5% dirt tare and 16.5% sugar content. Almost 300 loads averaged 16.5% sugar at Ipswich.