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Chairman calls for stronger European sugar industry

15 November 2011
A radical shake-up of the sugar industry planned by the European Commission would lead to developments on the world market having a direct impact on the European market. The Chairman of Cosun's Board, Jos van Campen, has warned about the dangers of abolishing import restrictions. They include widely fluctuating prices and even shortages in the processing industry.

Jos van Campen has no doubts: “The sugar industry has undergone radical change in recent years to get it into shape for the future. In the Netherlands we now have only two sugar factories and they both work very efficiently, and we are making substantial investments in new initiatives such as the biobased economy”.

He is confident the industry can cope with the eventual abolition of production quotas. But if countries such as Brazil gain unlimited access to the European market, he believes the sugar industry will face serious problems. "The swings in beet prices will force growers to switch to other crops, the sugar factories will become uneconomical and the industry itself will be at risk. Sugar processors will have to rely on imports from other continents and deal with widely fluctuating raw material prices." All trading blocs have political arrangements that favour their own sugar production industries. If Europe unilaterally abolishes its, it will seriously undermine its own sugar industry, Van Campen argues.

Van Campen is calling for a European sugar industry that can guarantee sustainable production, delivery reliability and competitive prices. The broader view of corporate social responsibility is far more preferable than the course the European Commission wants to take.

See also: Position paper Dutch sugar sector