Tag Archive | "sugar"

Portugal to bring in sugar tax


Portugal has become the latest country to introduce a tax on sugary soft drinks, as its Government unveiled plans to bring in the levy next year.

While plans for a sugar tax were announced in last week’s Budget here in Ireland, it will be several years before it takes effect.

The Portuguese sugar tax will see the price of a 330ml can of soft drink rise by around 5.5 cents. The move is expected to raise around €80 million a year, most of which will be invested in public health.

The Iberian state follows the example of countries like France, Mexico and Hungary. They will soon be followed by the likes of the UK and South Africa, although there has been heavy opposition to their plans from the drinks industry.

The move comes just a few days after the World Health Organisation urged a tax on sugary drinks after a new report suggested raising prices by 20% or more results in lower consumption and “improved nutrition”.

The Portuguese Association of Soft Drinks opposes the proposed new tax, and says developments in food standards and reformulations to reduce sugar in soft drinks would be a better option.

They said: “We are committed to reduce the calorie content of soft drinks between 2013 and 2020, at least 25 percent. By the end of 2015 we have reduced 10.7 percent. This is an effective contribution to the reduction of calories in the diet of the Portuguese, but it should be noted that the consumption of soft drinks is only 2 percent of calories ingested by the Portuguese.

“The establishment of a special tax on soft drinks will lead to the transfer of consumption to cheaper brands which will have adverse effects for the national productive sector, since 85 percent of the volume of the manufacturer brands is produced in Portugal, while only 25 percent of the volume of private labels (cheaper) is of domestic origin.”

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PepsiCo sets sugar reduction targets


PepsiCo has announced ambitious plans to dramatically reduce the sugar content in its drinks as part of its sustainable growth strategy for 2025.

These goals aim to continue “transforming PepsiCo’s food and beverage product portfolio”.

Its goals include: At least two-thirds of its global beverage portfolio volume will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugars per 12-oz serving by 2025; at least three-quarters of its global foods portfolio volume will not exceed 1.3 milligrams of sodium per calorie by 2025; and the company will provide access to at least three billion servings of nutritious foods and beverages to underserved communities and consumers.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi says: “We have mapped our plans against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and we believe the steps we are taking will help lift PepsiCo to even greater heights in the year ahead. Companies like PepsiCo have a tremendous opportunity – as well as a responsibility – to not only make a profit, but to do so in a way that makes a difference in the world.”

Also included in their sustainability targets are commitments to significantly reduce carbon emissions, particularly those related to agriculture and packaging. Other elements of the plan include increased efforts in water preservation, sustainable sourcing of crops and the reduction of waste.

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Yoghurt brand reduces sugar content in kids’ products by 40%


Anchor Uno, a New Zealand-based yoghurt brand owned by dairy giant Fonterra, has re-launched its children’s yoghurts with 40% less sugar than the original product.

Brand manager Nicola Carroll said: “We are always working on our product formulations, fine-tuning, reviewing and improving our products, prioritising ones that deliver the goodness of dairy nutrition to kids.”

The fine tuning from Anchor Uno has removed the sugar from the yoghurt base altogether, with the only sugar content coming from added sugar in the fruit preparation. This 40% reduction in sugar was achieved with no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners.

The company indicates that their extensive research has shown that the reduction in sugar has not translated to a compromise on taste, with the new formulation equally or more preferred than the previous recipe.

General Manager of Nutrition at Fonterra, Angela Rowan, commented: “Anchor Unois a great example of our commitment to nutrition – providing the goodness of dairy with less added sugars, in line with recommendations from public health authorities such as the World Health Organisation.”

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Ohly unveils “powerful natural solution” to make Stevia less bitter


Ingredients company Ohly has announced the unveiling of a new product they say acts as an effective sugar replacement, but effectively masks the off-taste of Stevia.

Sav-R-Sweet is described as a “clean tasting, natural solution”, that targets the loss of taste in food and drinks where the sugar content is reduced, while effectively nullifying the high intensity bitterness that comes with the natural sweetener Stevia.

The use of Sav-R-Sweet in combination with Stevia allows for a greater reduction in the intake of naturally occurring sugar. In testing on beverages, sauces, fruit preparations and yoghurt drinks, a relative sugar reduction of 50% was achieved and an absolute sucrose reduction of up to 8% (w/w) without any compromise on taste, according to Ohly.

Rainer Huetterman, global sales director, says: “We tackled the flavour challenges of Stevia sweeteners head on with a partner product that will effectively mask bitterness and boost fruitiness. It means introducing Sav-R-Sweet facilitates higher levels of sugar reduction and actually improves flavour.”

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EWG berates cereal manufacturers


cerealsAccording to a new analysis by EWG, children who eat a bowl a day of pre-sweetened cereals could consume five to nine pounds more sugar a year than parents might think from reading nutrition labels.

Environmental Working Group notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that cereal makers must update the Nutrition Facts labels on packages to reflect larger, more accurate serving sizes. Because the FDA gave cereal companies more than two years to comply, EWG is calling on General Mills, Kellogg’s and Post to update the information on their websites as soon as possible and to expedite changes to the labels on packages ahead of the FDA deadline.

“Breakfast cereals are the fifth-highest source of added sugar in the diets of children under 8, only behind sugary drinks, cookies, candy and ice cream,” said Dawn Undurraga, EWG nutritionist. “Parents who depend on the nutrition labels to tell them how much sugar is in cereal should know that current labels are based on what the average American ate in 1977, and their kids are eating up to twice as much sugar as the labels might lead them to believe.”

Parents who want to know the truth about sugar in cereals don’t have to wait for manufacturers to update their labels and websites. EWG points out that its Food Scores database now includes an online calculator that lets users see how much sugar is in various serving sizes.

When the FDA’s new standards kick in, none of the 10 most widely advertised kids’ cereals will meet the industry’s self-imposed limit on sugar in cereals advertised to kids set by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, EWG claims. According to Nielsen data compiled by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, in 2011 the Big Three cereal makers spent a combined total of $207.7 million on TV advertising of the ten most heavily marketed kids’ cereals–– enough for the average 6-to-11-year-old to see 536 ads and the average preschooler to see 451.

“Cereal makers face a decision in 2018,” said Undurraga. “Will they reduce the sugar in their products or raise their self-imposed limit on brands marketed to children and continue to spend hundreds of millions to promote the likes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch as part of a healthy diet?”

In 2014 EWG reviewed 1,500 cereals, including more than 180 children’s brands and found that a child who eats a bowl of cereal a day for a year ends up consuming 10 pounds of sugar. That was based not on the current FDA serving size of 30 grams––what people ate 40 years ago––but on FDA data from 2003-2008 calculating that an average serving had grown to 39 grams.

The new rule raises the standard serving size to 40 grams––but an industry-funded study shows that even that larger serving size is much lower than what children are actually eating, EWG claims. EWG’s new analysis found that a child who eats a “real-world” serving size every day would consume an additional 5.6 to 9.3 pounds of sugar a year.

“The FDA’s new rule is an important step toward giving parents more accurate information about how much sugar their kids get in cereal,” said Undurraga. “But cereal makers should go beyond the letter of the law by reducing the amount of sugar in their products and decreasing their marketing of sugary cereals to kids.”

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Plant Based Foods Association launches


Fruits and vegetables23 food companies have announced the launch of the Plant Based Foods Association, which is said to be the first trade group to represent the fast-growing $3.5 billion plant-based foods sector. The association will engage in education, promotion, and advance policies to meet the increasing consumer demand for plant-based foods.

“Every other sector of the food industry – from sugar to organics – is represented in the policy arena,” said Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association. “The time has come for the plant-based food industry to also have a collective voice.”

The association said it plans to educate retailers, food service professionals, and consumers about the myriad benefits of plant-based eating. Numerous health organizations such as the American Heart Association and international institutions such as the United Nations recognize the need to shift towards a plant-based diet, for both health and environmental benefits. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future recommends cutting back on meat not just for health and the environment, but also due to concerns for animal welfare, risks to workers, and antibiotic resistance. Consumers are increasingly heeding these recommendations.

According to newly-released data from SPINS, the leading retail sales data company for the natural and specialty products industry, the total market for this sector, (excluding data from Whole Foods Market) tops nearly $3.5 billion in sales. The category includes plant-based versions of meat, tofu, milk, yogurt, cheese and cream, and has grown more than 8.7% over the last two years. By comparison, general food and beverage sector growth has been just 3.7% over the same period.

Driving the growth are plant-based milks, which at $2.1 billion in sales have enjoyed 14.4% growth in total sales volume over the last two years. Plant-based meats, including meatless burgers, nuggets, tempeh, and tofu drives over $865 million in sales, with burgers representing the largest portion of the category, and tofu leading the growth at 7% over the last two years. With major advances in flavor and mouthfeel, plant-based yogurts, though still a smaller sub-category, have seen mighty growth, topping 12.7% over two years.

“Our data shows strong growth of this food sector,” said Kora Lazarski, SPINS’ strategic alliance manager. “With a new trade association focused on developing this industry further, we expect these figures will continue to grow in the coming years as new products are launched to meet consumer interest and demand.”

In Washington DC, the association is working with Elizabeth Kucinich, a leading advocate for healthy and sustainable food. Recently, Kucinich offered remarks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how the Dietary Guidelines for Americans should encourage shifting toward a plant-based diet to improve public health and help protect the environment. “Combined with the rising demands of conscious consumers, the Plant Based Foods Association can help shift public policy towards a better, more sustainable food system,” she said.

“In the next five to ten years, we are going to see a massive explosion of interest in plant-based foods. We are going to see many new companies and many success stories,” said Jaime Athos, CEO of The Tofurky Company and board president for the Plant Based Foods Association.

Founding board members are, Daiya Foods, Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s Kitchen, The Tofurky Company, and Upton’s Natural. In addition to the association’s five founding board members, 18 food companies have joined as charter members of the Plant Based Foods Association:

  1. Axiom Foods
  2. Beanfields Snacks
  3. Califia Farms
  4. Freja’s Foods
  5. Heidi Ho
  6. Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
  7. Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss
  8. Malk Organic
  9. Match Meats
  10. Melt Organic
  11. New Barn
  12. New Wave Foods
  13. Next Level Burger
  14. Nutpods
  15. Real Food Daily
  16. Sweet Earth Natural Foods
  17. Treeline Cheese
  18. Tofuna Fysh

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IBC: Sugar tax is not an effective solution


SuagrThe Irish Beverage Council (IBC) has hit out at plans for a proposed sugar-tax in Ireland calling the plans from various political parties as “ill-informed opinion” which will cost consumers money and do nothing to improve public health.

IBC director Kevin McPartlan said: “In the debate on a sugar tax, simple, verifiable facts are being ignored in favour of populist sounds bites based on ill-informed opinion. An additional and blunt tax on one ingredient and product is not an effective way to combat the complex and multi-faceted obesity challenge.”

The condemnation from the IBC follows the disclosure of proposals over the weekend from Fine Gael, Ireland’s largest political party, to impose a 10 percent tax on cans of sugary drinks to be introduced in 2018.

The pledge marked a U-turn from the party, which had previously argued against such a tax.

However, the party’s finance minister Michael Noonan has now softened the party’s stance. He said: “A less ambitious tax on sugar enhanced drinks might be worth examining, because you could focus it and you would know that there weren’t unexpected consequences.”

“The drinks thing is an issue and I wouldn’t be averse to looking at it, but the details would have to be worked out very carefully.” The Fine Gael party, which is currently in power as part of a coalition government, is looking to appeal to voters ahead of the general election taking place later this month in Ireland.

But the IBC, which represses manufactures and distributers of soft drinks, bottled water and fruit juices in Ireland, pointed to the examples of sugar taxes in France, Mexico and Denmark to indicate that such a move would be foolhardy.

It said such a tax in Mexico had only reduced calorie intake by 4.7 calories; had led to a worrying impact on industry sales in France; while it said Denmark had abandoned plans for such a tax after a year because of its economic impact.

The IBC, which pointed to the inroads made to improve the nation’s health through promotion of low calorie products, said: “Despite its introduction in several countries around the world, no causal link has ever been established between additional tax on sugar sweetened beverages and reduction in obesity.”

McPartlan added: “We are all rightly concerned about obesity but the contention that an additional tax on products which accounts for just three percent of the calories consumed in Ireland will solve it is nonsense.”

“We already pay VAT on soft drinks. This is an unnecessary additional cost to consumers in Ireland dressed up as a public health measure. It will not solve the root causes of obesity. It is simply another stealth tax.”

“It would be better to focus on evidence led interventions that will make a positive difference to obesity. It is vital that whoever makes up the next government talks to industry so that effective initiatives are not scarified for snappy election soundbites.”

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Research: G3PP can detoxify excess sugar


sugarGuilt-free sugary treats may be on the horizon. Scientists at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) have discovered an enzyme that can stop the toxic effects of sugar in various organs of the body. This enzyme, named glycerol 3-phosphate phosphatase (G3PP), plays a central role in controlling glucose and fat utilization. Led by Drs Marc Prentki and Murthy Madiraju, the research team has demonstrated that G3PP is able to detoxify excess sugar from the cells, and their discovery should lead to the development of therapeutics for obesity and type 2 diabetes. The findings were published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“When glucose is abnormally elevated in the body, glucose-derived glycerol-3 phosphate reaches excessive levels in cells, and exaggerated glycerol 3 phosphate metabolism can damage various tissues. We found that G3PP is able to breakdown a great proportion of this excess glycerol phosphate to glycerol and divert it outside the cell, thus protecting the insulin producing beta cells of pancreas and various organs from toxic effects of high glucose levels,” said Marc Prentki, a principal investigator at the CRCHUM and a professor at the University of Montreal.

Mammalian cells use glucose and fatty acids as the main nutrients. Their utilization inside cells governs many physiological processes such as insulin secretion by beta cells, production of glucose in liver, storage of fat in adipose tissue and breakdown of nutrients for energy production. Derangement of these processes leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The beta cells sense changes in blood glucose levels and produce insulin according to body demand. Insulin is an important hormone for controlling glucose and fat utilization. However, when beta cells are presented with excess glucose and fatty acids, the same nutrients become toxic and damage them, leading to their dysfunction and diabetes. When glucose is being used in cells, glycerol-3-phosphate is formed, and this molecule is central to metabolism, since it is needed for both energy production and fat formation.

“By diverting glucose as glycerol, G3PP prevents excessive formation and storage of fat and it also lowers excessive production of glucose in liver, a major problem in diabetes,” says Murthy Madiraju, a scientist at CRCHUM.

How significant are the findings? “It is extremely rare since the 1960s that a novel enzyme is discovered at the heart of metabolism of nutrients in all mammalian tissues, and likely this enzyme will be incorporated in biochemistry textbooks,” Prentki said.

“We identified the enzyme while looking for mechanisms enabling beta cells to get rid of excess glucose as glycerol,” said Murthy Madiraju. “This mechanism has also been found to be operating in liver cells, and this enzyme is present in all body tissues”.

The work offers a new therapeutic target for obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The research team is currently in the process of discovering “small molecule activators of G3PP” to treat cardiometabolic disorders. These drugs will be unique in their mode of action and first of their kind in this class of drugs. The treatment will first have to be confirmed in several animal models before drugs for human use can be developed.

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Tesco will push brands into cutting sugar


Tesco announced that it will continue to “push” suppliers into stripping sugar from products and hinted that confectionery or fruit juice might be among the categories it looks to next.

Speaking at the Westminster Forum ‘policy on high fat, sugar and salt foods’ seminar, Tim Smith, Tesco quality director, said the retailer’s push to encourage suppliers to reduce sugar was just getting started.

He said Tesco’s push to strip out sugar from its soft drinks range, which culminated in some “lunchbox” brands including Ribena and Rubicon being delisted in July, would continue.

Smith told Marketing the retailer had first turned its attention to soft drinks because “they happen to have found solutions that customers find not only acceptable but often preferable to the version they are replacing”, such as diet colas.

But he warned he would also “push with equal weight onto our supply base” and confirmed Tesco was already conducting a review of another category – though he declined to reveal which.

However, he did say the Public Health England sugar report, which shows that while children get their highest intake of sugar from soft drinks, confectionery and fruit juice are also high contributors, is a “clear” indicator of where the business will look next.

“The challenge for us now is we need to apply exactly the same discipline and pressure on those manufacturers that we know will find it a bit more difficult – where indulgence might actually be an overriding factor,” he added.

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Lengthy legal dispute over high fructose corn syrup reaches an end


cornSince 2011, sugar producers and makers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), have been locked in a major dispute as the compete for market share.

For the Sugar Association, Western Sugar Cooperative led the dispute, while on the side of the Corn Refiners Association, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) took the lead. In 2011, Western Sugar Cooperative filed a lawsuit against the makers of HFCS when they allegedly rebranded their product as corn sugar and that the body can’t tell the difference between sugar and HFCS. This was in response to negative publicity against HFCS, which has been made cheaply in the US and been a serious competitor to sugar since the 1970s.

On the basis of a false-advertising claim, sugar producers were seeking $1.5 billion in the case, according to a report by Associated Press. The defendants in the case, including Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and corn refiners, would eventually go on to countersue for $530 million based on what they considered false and misleading statements from the sugar industry.

In terms of nutrition and metabolism, scientists claim to have found that as HFCS has nearly the same make-up as sugar (45% glucose: 55% fructose, as opposed to 50:50 for sugar). This could mean that it has the same effect on the body, which is why makers of HFCS claim that the product is the same as sugar.

In a joint statement, the Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association said: “The parties jointly announce today that they have reached a settlement of a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Parties continue their commitments to practices that encourage safe and healthful use of their products, including moderation in the consumption of table sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.”

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Fairtrade Sales Reach Almost €5 Billion


€4.9 billion ($6.6 billion) was spent globally on Fairtrade certified products last year, according to figures by Fairtrade International. Around the globe, retail sales of Fairtrade certified products increased by a total of 12% compared to 2010. In Fairtrade’s biggest market, the UK, shoppers spent 12% more on Fairtrade products. In Fairtrade’s first and oldest market, the Netherlands, Fairtrade sales grew by 24%.

Meanwhile, growth of Fairtrade sales in new countries is skyrocketing. South Africans spent more than three times more on Fairtrade certified products in 2011 over 2010. In its first year with a national Fairtrade organization, sales in South Korea registered at Eur17 million. Products with the FAIRTRADE Mark are now available to people in more than 120 countries.

Sales grew steadily across all of the leading Fairtrade products: coffee by 12%, cocoa by 14%, bananas 9%, sugar 9%, tea 8%, and flowers by 11%.

“Fairtrade is the norm for millions of people. It is a part of the regular weekly shopping. And now sales of Fairtrade certified products are taking off in new countries, as entirely new groups of people discover Fairtrade for the first time,” points out Tuulia Syvaenen, executive operations officer at Fairtrade International.

Strong Fairtrade sales are great news for the more than 1.2 million farmers and workers working at 991 Fairtrade certified producer organisations in 66 countries. In addition to the income they earned from sales of Fairtrade products, farmers and workers earned an extra Eur65 million in Fairtrade Premium in 2011. They spent this money on projects that they decided upon democratically, such as farm improvements, education, healthcare and community projects.

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Sugar Drives Associated British Foods


Buoyed by strong performances from its sugar business and its Primark retail arm, Associated British Foods has reported a 3% rise in profit before tax to £329 million on group revenue up 11% to £5.77 billion for the 24 weeks ended March 3rd 2012. AB Sugar increased revenue by 17% to £1.2 billion and operating profit by 59% to £172 million over the previous year. This was driven by a strong increase in the UK, further improvement in Spain and a better performance from Illovo.

In the UK, sugar production for the full year is expected to be 1.3 million tonnes, compared to just under 1.0 million tonnes last year which fell short of sales quota. British Sugar’s interim profit was well ahead of last year reflecting an excellent sugar beet campaign, strong factory performance and higher EU prices.

ABF’s grocery revenue increased by 4% to £1.81 billion but operating profit fell by 31% to £75 million, primarily due to restructuring costs at George Weston Foods in Australia and Allied Bakeries in the UK, margin declines at Allied Bakeries and higher than expected costs of operating the Castlemaine meat factory in Australia.

Allied Bakeries is continuing to roll out the largest capital development programme within the UK bakery industry to improve manufacturing efficiency and upgrade product quality. Construction of the new bread plant and bulk handling at the Stockport bakery is well under way and due to begin commissioning in June. A rationalisation charge has been taken for the closure of two smaller bakeries and the cost of further overhead reduction.

Ingredients revenue increased by 2% to £538 million during the first half but operating profit declined by 42% to £18 million as the challenges experienced by the yeast and bakery ingredients business, seen particularly in the second half of last year, continued. Operating profit was adversely affected in a number of regions by input cost pressures, increased competition and volume weakness. The performance in Europe was adversely affected by increased competition which has made price increases to recover higher input costs difficult to achieve. Bakery ingredients in Spain continued to grow and commissioning of a new plant in Cordoba is expected at the end of the financial year. A rationalisation charge has been taken for a reduction in overhead in the European region.

Primark achieved strong first half revenue growth of 15% to reach sales of £1.62 billion but operating profit rose by a more modest 2% to £154 million.

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, AB Sugar’s investment over recent years, its focus on maximising capacity utilisation and operational efficiency and the strength of regional sugar prices, are expected to drive the full year profit for sugar well ahead of last year. This, together with solid profit growth from Primark in the second half, is expected to more than offset the lower profit in grocery and ingredients.

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Double Digit UK Growth For Fairtrade Products


Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in the UK reached £1.32 billion in 2011, a 12% increase on sales of £1.17 billion in 2010. Cocoa and sugar have all seen significant growth with increases respectively of 34% and 21% over 2010. Bananas, coffee, tea are all showing steady growth. Critically, this means that Fairtrade Premiums, the extra that producers receive for business or social development, increased by over 10% in 2011 compared with 2010.

The sugar and confectionery industry is leading the way as businesses are stepping up more than ever to meet sustainability challenges, and deliver a better deal for small-scale farmers and workers, and enable them to take their own steps towards a better future.

“Fairtrade is an example of responsible capitalism in action. We believe that responsible businesses are those who don’t just tackle the company bonuses at the top – but take steps to ensure a fairer deal for the workers and farmers at the bottom of the supply chain too,” says Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation. “The commercial reality is that forward-thinking companies are showing leadership in committing to Fairtrade, realising that, as well as it being the right thing to do, they need to invest in smallholders, developing better, longer-term relationships, to ensure the future supply of commodities like cocoa, coffee, sugar, tea, fruit and more.”

For instance,  Fairtrade’s share of the UK retail bagged sugar market is about to increase to 42%. Morrisons supermarket is converting its entire range of sugar to Fairtrade, supplied by Tate & Lyle Sugars. This newest move by Morrisons builds on existing commitments to Fairtrade sugar by Tate & Lyle, which became the first major retail brand to convert to Fairtrade in 2008, as well as retailers The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and their major suppliers. The ambition is to get to 50% of retail market share.

Brand manufacturers have also committed to Fairtrade sugar – like pioneering chocolate company Divine Chocolate and the nation’s favourite chocolate treats, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Kit Kat four-finger, with Maltesers also switching later this year. And ice-cream companies are also using Fairtrade sugar – like Ben & Jerry’s which has been rolling out a plan to convert all its ice-cream to Fairtrade this year. Many cafe and restaurant chains, and catering suppliers again use Fairtrade sugar, with commitments from Sodexo, Aramark and Compass. The Fairtrade campaign will receive another boost in the summer through the Food Vision for the London 2012 Games, which includes a commitment for caterers to use Fairtrade sugar across all venues.

While sugar is one of the most valuable globally traded agricultural commodities, above coffee and cocoa, too many sugar cane producers remain in dire poverty and sugar production in many parts of the world is becoming unsustainable because of lack of investment in farming methods and support for farming communities. With impending EU sugar reforms looming which will jeopardise access to European markets for some of the world’s poorest sugar producing countries, poverty in sugar growing communities is threatening to increase. The phenomenal growth in Fairtrade in recent years has had a significant impact in helping farmers deal with the challenges they face, and is likely to mitigate some of the worst effects of the EU sugar reforms. Research on Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), which supplies Tate & Lyle, and Kasinthula Cane Growers Association (KCG) in Malawi, which also supplies the UK Fairtrade sugar market, shows Fairtrade is one of the strongest tools available to farmers, leading to: improved productivity, better environmental management, and social benefits through premiums.

 

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The Real Good Food Company Improves Financial Performance


Leading UK bakery, ingredient and sugar group The Real Good Food Company has reported a 62% increase in EBITDA to £9.1 million for 2011, driven by sales growth and a focus on value added activities. The Real Good Food Company owns the largest independent non-refining distributor of sugar inEurope (Napier Brown) and is a supplier of dairy ingredients (Garretts), supplies bakery ingredients (Renshaw), jam and bakery ingredients (R&W Scott) and manufactures patisserie and desserts (Haydens Bakery).

“We are now seeing major benefits coming through from our dual-track programme of adjusting to the structural change affecting our biggest business, Sugar, and implementing strategic initiatives across all our other businesses. We are focused on creating solid sustainable profitability based on brand development, growth and risk management,” comments Pieter Totte, executive chairman of The Real Good Food Company. “I am extremely pleased that the progress we have made is reflected in a significant improvement in our financial performance during 2011. With trading starting positively in January, and divisional management achieving further progress in their improvement programmes, I am confident in meeting our expectations for 2012.”

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Sugar to Fuel Earnings Increase at Sudzucker


Europe’s largest sugar group Sudzucker expects to increase annual revenue to around Eur6.5 billion in 2011/12, up from Eur6.2 billion in the previous year, and achieve an operating profit of more than Eur600 million, against Eur519 million in 2010/11. The boost in earnings will be driven predominantly by the group’s sugar segment.

 

Sudzucker increased group revenues by around 9% to Eur3.34 billion in the first half and operating profit by 23% to Eur347 million with its various business segments – sugar, CropEnergies and fruit – contributing to the earnings improvement.

 

The sugar segment’s revenues rose to Eur1.73 billion in the first half and operating profit climbed from Eur188 million to Eur220 million. The drivers were higher sugar sales revenues, especially in the Eastern European markets, and higher sales revenues from non-quota sugar. Since the EU is now a net importer, the substantial increase in the world market price has impacted the market price level within the EU.

 

Although the special product segment’s revenues rose to Eur896 million in the first half, operating profit during the same period fell to Eur67 million (previous year – Eur77 million). This was mainly due to further commodity price increases, which began to have an impact in the second quarter. As expected, not all divisions have as yet been able to fully pass the increases on to the market.

 

The CropEnergies segment’s revenues climbed from Eur200 million to Eur253 million in the first half. Operating profit rose from Eur17 million to Eur29 million, as significantly higher commodity costs were offset here by higher ethanol and by-product sales revenues.

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Solid Interim Growth By Associated British Foods


Associated British Foods has achieved a 5% rise in adjusted operating profit to £390m on group revenue ahead by 9% to £5.21b in the 24 weeks to March 5th 2011 as four of its five business segments improved profitability. Group profit before tax declined slightly from £320m in the first half of 2010 to £319m.

A feature of the first half of the current financial year has been the very large and continued increase in the price of a number of commodities which impacted on the group’s three food businesses – sugar, grocery and ingredients.

The rise in the world sugar price has benefited the sugar operations. Sugar profits in the first half were 27% higher at £108m on revenue up 10% to £1.02b with a substantial improvement in the operations in Spain and China. While world prices are expected to continue for the rest of this year but profit for the sugar businesses will be held back in the second half by the lower volumes produced. The damage to the UK sugar beet crop during the severe winter weather is expected to result in a net profit reduction of some £20m in the full year at British Sugar.

George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods.

In grocery, the impact of higher input costs on profit were offset by a combination of efficiency savings, brand and product development, and price increases. Grocery revenue increased by 8% to £1.73b and profit rose by 17% to £111m benefiting from a much reduced level of provisioning for the cost of manufacturing reorganisation. Twinings Ovaltine and the UK businesses performed well but George Weston Foods in Australia disappointed.

Profit from the ingredients businesses was lower than last year as a result of higher molasses prices and the cost of commissioning the new yeast extracts plant in China. Revenue increased by 7% to £544m but operating profit declined by 38% to £29m.

The Primark retail business and the agriculture division were the other two segments to improve profits.

“The breadth, diversity and resilience of our businesses have enabled the group to deliver good growth. We have made further substantial capital investment for the longer-term development of the group,” says George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods.

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Tate & Lyle Completes Retreat From Sugar


Tate & Lyle is disposing of its sugar interests in Vietnam to TH Milk Food Joint Stock Company, a local Vietnamese company, for £33m. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of the current financial year.

The sale completes a two year disposal strategy that has entailed Tate & Lyle divesting its sugar factories around the world in order to focus on its Speciality Foods business, which produces the sweetener Sucralose, and its Bulk Products division, which manufactures products such as corn syrup.

The programme has involved the sale of Tate & Lyle’s European sugar business to US-based American Sugar Refining for £211m, and the £67m disposal of its Molasses operation to UK-based W& R Burnett.

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Rusagro Seeks London Listing


Moscow-based Rusagro, the Russian sugar, pork and agribusiness group, is seeking to raise $30m through an initial public offering of about 17% of its equity on the London Stock Exchange. The IPO will value Rusagro, which controls about a sixth of Russia’s sugar production and owns the country’s fifth largest pig farm, at up to $2.08b.

Rusagro incorporates six food processing plants and 38 agricultural companies in the Belgorod, Tambov and Voronezh Regions. Rusagro is also engaged in dairy farming and hog farming in Belgorod Region.

The money raised will be used to fund Rusagro’s expansion strategy. Rusagro is 95% owned by founder and Russian billionaire Vadim Moshkovich and his family.

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Nordzucker and PureCircle Form European Steviasucrose Joint Venture


Nordzucker, Europe´s second biggest sugar producer, and PureCircle of Malaysia, have formed a joint venture, NP Sweet, for the development and marketing of products that combine the natural benefits of both sugar and stevia to meet the fast growing requirements for reduced calorie naturally sweet applications from food and beverage manufacturers across Northern and Eastern Europe.

The 50/50 joint venture draws on the combined resources of both parents. This provides NP Sweet with access to the scale, distribution and sugar technologies of Nordzucker with the world’s leading high purity stevia technologies and product innovation of PureCircle.

PureCircle is a global leader in the production of high purity stevia products. It is estimated that in excess of 80% of the world´s Reb A and other high purity stevia has been produced by PureCircle. Stevia is now being grown for PureCircle in 16 countries across South America, Africa, Asia, and the US.

Lars Bo Jorgensen, general manager of NP Sweet, comments: “We believe that our steviasucrose concepts offer food and beverage producers highly efficient solutions, where sweetening with excellent taste is combined with facilitated production opportunities. Our customers benefit from the partners’ unique and individually strong platforms in stevia technology and sucrose application technology for a broad spectrum of foods and beverages Our technologies are underpinned by integrated supply chains that offer customers sustainability and traceability from field to final application. No other company can offer this.”

Both partners view the creation of NP Sweet as an important vehicle for growth once EU Regulatory clearance for stevia products is achieved. EU clearance is expected before the end of 2011. NP Sweet is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. Production of steviasucrose is based in both Scandinavia and Germany. NP Sweet‘s management team is drawn from across the Nordzucker operating regions.

The joint venture follows a similar alliance earlier this year between US-based Cargill and Silver Spoon, which is part of Associated British Foods, which formed an exclusive partnership for the UK distribution and marketing of the Truvia brand of tabletop sweeteners. Developed and pioneered by Cargill, Truvia is a zero calorie sweetener, made with rebiana that originates from the stevia leaf.

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Astarta and Danone Form Joint Venture in Ukraine


Astarta, the biggest producer of sugar and industrial milk in Ukraine, has entered a joint venture for the production and processing of milk with Danone, the world leader in dairy products, waters and baby nutrition.

Astarta’s high level of vertical integration in industrial cattle farming, own forage supply, as well as accumulated experience of industrial livestock business, will provide for a substantial increase of volumes and cost efficiency of milk production and further upgrading of its quality in the coming years. Operating a plant at Kherson along with eight regional offices, Danone is one of the largest producers of dairy products in Ukraine. Danone’s international experience will enable Astarta to take its dairy business to a new level of efficiency as it plans to double it milk production during the next five years.

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Agrana to Invest €27.6m to Expand Russian Fruit Preparation Plant


Austrian group Agrana is to invest Eur27.6m to expand its Russian fruit preparation plant at Serpuchov over the next five years. Agrana is one of the leading producers of fruit juice concentrates in Europe, and the top global manufacturer of fruit preparations for the dairy industry.

The expansion programme will boost the factory’s production capacity by 63% from around 38,000 tonnes to 62,000 tonnes per year when the project has been completed, allowing Agrana to capitalise on the potential of the growing market for fruit preparations in Russia and the CIS states.

Agrana began operations at the Serpuchov site with two production lines in May 2005 and has tripled its volume of sales since then in the course of two earlier expansion phases. With 238 personnel and annual revenues of around Eur55m, this subsidiary currently has a 48% share of the regional fruit preparations market, which, in addition to Russia, also includes several other CIS states and a total of approximately 217 million consumers.

Fruit preparations are used primarily in the dairy products industry in the production of fruit yoghurts but also for cakes and pastries as well as ice cream. With a current estimated pro-capita consumption level of around 3.5 kg per year, the CIS yoghurt market offers considerable growth potential compared, for example, with Poland, where this figure is approx. 8.5 kg, or Western Europe, where consumption amounts to around 16.5 kg of yoghurt per year.

“Fruit yoghurts are becoming increasingly popular in Russia and the neighbouring states as prosperity and health consciousness are rising. This expansion phase in Serpuchov is key to our being able to profit from the forecast growth of around 50% in demand for fruit preparations from a current level of 82,000 tonnes to 124,000 tonnes per annum by 2014/15, and to consolidate our excellent market position as the quality, service and innovation leader,” says Johann Marihart, chief executive of Agrana Beteiligungs.

In addition to fruit preparations and fruit juice concentrate, Agrana is also a leading sugar company in Central and Eastern Europe. It is the leading supplier of specialised starch products in Europe, as well as being the largest producer of bioethanol in Austria and Hungary. In its 2009/10 business year, Agrana recorded revenues of approximately Eur2b. Agrana employs around 8,000 personnel at 52 facilities in 25 countries around the world.

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Britvic Cautions on Unprecedented Input Cost Inflation


Britvic, the second biggest soft drinks manufacturer in the UK and Ireland, has cautioned that escalating input cost inflation, particularly for sugar, PET and steel, will not permit any improvement in its operating profit margin in 2011. When Britvic commenced price negotiations with the aim of protecting cash margins, it anticipated that input-cost inflation in its Great Britain and Ireland markets would be 5-6%.

However, the pace of input cost inflation in recent weeks has been unprecedented, leading Britvic to revise the full year GB and Ireland input cost inflation guidance to 9-11%. In particular, the soft drinks group has been adversely impacted by sharp recent increases in the price of PET, steel and sugar.

Paul Moody, chief executive of Britvic.

The escalation in input costs comes after the completion of this year’s price negotiation process, meaning that Britvic does not now expect to be able to recover or mitigate in full the additional input cost increases expected this year. The input cost inflation will impact the outcome for both the first half and full year.

Despite these headwinds, Britvic still expects its 2011 operating profit performance to be materially ahead of the 53-week result reported for financial year 2010.

“We have witnessed a rapid and unprecedented uplift in the cost of key raw materials. This has been driven by a shortage of supply to the market, where, for example, we have seen prices for PET, derived from oil, surge by around 20% in the last month alone. We do, however, remain confident about the medium to long-term outlook for the business,” says Paul Moody, chief executive of Britvic.

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Tate & Lyle Raises Price of Corn Sweeteners by 20%


Escalating corn costs have forced Tate & Lyle to raise the price of its corn sweeteners, supplied to food and drink manufacturers, by 20%. Tate & Lyle has had to cope with a corn price rise of 40% over the past year. The increased cost of keeping its corn silos full is expected to push up net debt from its current level of £482m to £540m.

Regarded as a cheaper alternative to sugar, corn sugar (high fructose corn syrup) is used as an ingredient in a wide range of food and drink products. Following the recent disposals of its molasses business for £70m and its EU sugar refining business for £212m, Tate & Lyle is focusing on its developing its speciality food ingredients business, supported by cash generated from bulk ingredients.

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EU Sugar Shortage a Real Concern


Food and Drink Industry Ireland, the main trade association for the food and drink industry in Ireland, has voiced concern about the security of sugar supply in the EU. World market sugar prices reached a 30-year high in November and 2011 will be the third year that global production/consumption has been in deficit. The group says that its members are having difficulty sourcing sugar and that a larger quantity of sugar needed to be made available within the EU.

Commenting on the issue, FDII director Paul Kelly says: “Most of the sugar consumed in Ireland is produced in the EU, which still operates import tariffs. While EU sugar refiners have covered 90% of their requirement, high prices and availability problems now mean there is a shortage of supply. In Europe as a whole, there is not enough sugar to cover existing supply contracts and this is beginning to have a major impact on many Irish food and drink companies.”

He continues: “This problem has been exacerbated by recent indications from the EU that it would be issuing 350,000 tonnes of export licences for sugar. This means that a large quantity of sugar will exit the EU, which is particularly unhelpful at a time when sugar supplies are scarce. FDII has called for this sugar not to be exported and instead to be made available to EU consumers. The European Commission’s sugar management committee has postponed a decision on this matter on two occasions in recent months. This uncertainty is not helping the situation.”

When supplies are scarce, small manufacturers find it more difficult to source supplies on the markets. Currently sugar can be sourced, but Irish food companies will have to pay exceedingly high prices to import it. The situation raises fears over security and quality of supply of the commodity. While the uncertainty remains, Irish food companies will have difficulty developing future production plans and may have to stop taking new business opportunities.

Paul Kelly concludes: “The current situation is another unwelcome example of growing input price inflation for an essential ingredient in food production. It is extremely unhelpful for end-manufacturers to have basic foodstuff commodities subject to speculation and supply constraints. Volatility is here to stay and problems are unlikely to ease until at least next year’s harvest, especially as traders remain attracted to foodstuff commodities.”

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Record Results From Associated British Foods


Associated British Foods has reported a 10% increase in revenue to £10.2b and adjusted operating profit up by 26% to £909m for 2010. With 56% of sales and 46% of operating profit generated outside the UK, the translated results of overseas businesses benefited from the weakness of sterling. At constant currency, and adjusted for the impact of acquisitions and disposals, group revenue increased by 6% but profit was little affected and was still 25% ahead. Reported operating profit was up 31% to £819m and profit before tax advanced 54% to £763m.

Revenue exceeded £10b for the first time with strong underlying trading from all five of the group’s business segments – grocery, sugar, ingredients, agriculture and retail (Primark). Grocery margins improved, there was an excellent result for sugar and an outstanding performance from Primark.

Grocery revenue increased by 7% to £3.4b driven mainly by the benefit of currency translation on the sales of George Weston Foods in Australia. At constant currency, sales were level with last year. Adjusted operating profit rose from £191m to £229m.

George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods.

The results from sugar improved substantially with revenue ahead by 32% to £1.94b primarily as a result of a full year’s sales from Azucarera, acquired in April 2009, but also with good growth in the UK and from cane sugar in China. This revenue growth, together with an improvement in UK and Chinese margins, drove a profit increase of 43% to £240m. Ingredients achieved a revenue increase of 8% over last year to £1.07b and operating profit rose by 18% to £104m.

“This year’s outstanding results represent a step change for the group. A number of major projects will be completed over the coming year which will underpin future profit delivery and provide a platform for further growth. Opportunities for further attractive investment are plentiful and the group has the financial capacity to exploit them,” says George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods.

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European Commission to Ban Addition of Sugar to Fruit Juices


The Commission has adopted a proposal to amend the Fruit Juice Directive, including a move to ban the addition of sugar to fruit juices – in line with the Commission policy of reducing added sugars in products and promoting balanced diet.

The addition of sugar would be allowed only for nectars and some very specific products covered by the Directive, but the product labelling must make such addition clear. Another proposed adjustment is to include tomatoes in the list of fruits used for fruit juice production.

Most of the proposed changes are aimed at achieving further alignment with international rules by incorporating several additional elements of Codex Alimentarius standards into EU legislation, whilst also taking account of the Code of Practice of the European Fruit Juice Association.

The Directive lays down rules on the production, composition and labelling of fruit juices and certain similar products intended for human consumption in order to ensure their free movement with the European Union. The proposal will follow the ordinary legislative procedure in the European Parliament and the Council.

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Interim Loss at The Real Good Food Company


The Real Good Food Company, the UK sugar, ingredients and bakery group, has reported a loss before tax of £1.298m, including significant items of £189,000, for the first six months ended June 30th 2010, against a loss of £1.194m in the corresponding period last year. Overall group sales in the half year decreased by 11% to £90.7m, primarily due to lower prices at the group’s Napier Brown sugar business together with withdrawal from some lower margin business at the end of last year. However, strong sales growth was achieved in both the baking ingredients business, Renshaw, and in the cakes and desserts manufacturing business, Hayden’s Bakeries.

Pieter Totte, chairman of The Real Good Food Company.

“I am delighted by the progress which the group has made during the first half, with a turning point finally reached in our sugar business after several difficult years. The outlook for sugar is very encouraging, with expectations of increased volumes across all sectors rising further in 2011 as Napier Brown’s competitive advantages in terms of product range, service to customers, supply security and ability to manage complexity all come to the fore,” says Pieter Totte, chairman of The Real Good Food Company. “The tighter, and wider, supply conditions and improved pricing in the sugar business along with the significant growth already achieved in both Renshaw and Haydens gives me confidence in anticipating improved trading results for the second half and in the coming years.”

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Sudzucker Projects Higher Sales and Profits


German-based Sudzucker, which is Europe’s largest sugar group, has reported a 57% increase in operating profit to Eur282m on sales up by around 5% to Eur3.07b for the first half ending August 31st 2010. All business segments – sugar, special products, cropenergies and fruit – contributed to the earnings improvement.

For the full year, Sudzucker now expects a slight increase in group revenues to around Eur5.8b, up from Eur5.7b in the previous year, and a rise in operating profit to a level of more than Eur450m, against Eur403m in the previous year. The boost in earnings will be driven predominantly by the sugar and cropenergies segments. The full interim report for the first half year 2010/11 will be published on October 14th 2010.

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Lactalis Acquisition of Puleva Dairy Cleared


The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by the French group Lactalis of Spanish group Ebro Puleva’s dairy business. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in Europe or Spain.

Lactalis manufactures and sells milk and dairy products, including a wide range of cheese, desserts and cream, in roughly 150 countries, under its own brand names and under those of distributors. Via its subsidiary, Lactalis Iberia, Lactalis operates on the Spanish market, where it sells cheese and long-life milk

Ebro Puleva produces and sells rice, pasta, sauces and dairy products.

The Commission’s investigation concerned the supply of raw cow’s milk in Spain and the downstream markets of sales of basic long-life milk, flavoured milk, health drinks, liquid cream and ‘horchata’, a drink made from tiger nuts.

The Eur630m deal increases Lactalis Group’s sales in Spain to Eur1.2b and consolidates its standing as one of the world’s leading dairy companies. Having last year disposed of its sugar business to Associated British Foods for Eur526m, Ebro Puleva is now focused on its rice and pasta activities.

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Tate & Lyle Disposes of EU Sugar Operations For £211m


Tate & Lyle is selling its EU sugar refining operations to American Sugar Refining, the largest cane sugar refiner in North America, for £211m in cash. The deal reflects the change in development strategy adopted by Javed Ahmed, the new chief executive of Tate & Lyle.

EU S consists of the cane sugar refineries in London, UK, and Lisbon, Portugal, the Lyle’s Golden Syrup factory in London, the associated sugar and syrup brands and the Tate & Lyle Process Technology consulting business. In the year ended 31st March 2010, these businesses had external sales of £689m and made an adjusted operating profit of £14m (after transitional aid of £17m), and had gross assets of £374m at 31st March 2010. The sale excludes historic UK pension assets and liabilities and is expected to give rise to a book loss on disposal, before costs, of approximately £55m, subject to exchange rate movements and the timing of completion.

In May, Tate & Lyle announced its clear intentions to ‘focus, fix and grow’ its business. The sale of the EU sugar operations is intended to achieve in a more focused, less volatile business, and a solid platform to deliver sustainable long-term growth in Tate & Lyle’s speciality food ingredients business, supported by cash generated from its bulk ingredients activities.

The transaction is expected to be neutral to Tate & Lyle’s adjusted earnings per share on total operations in the 2011 financial year. The completion of the transaction, which is conditional upon anti-trust clearance in Portugal, is expected to occur in approximately two months.

Tate & Lyle has provided American Sugar Refining with a perpetual worldwide licence to use the Tate & Lyle brand in connection with the retail sale of sugar and in other limited circumstances.

Tate & Lyle is also looking to sell the remaining businesses within its sugars division, principally Molasses and Vietnamese sugar.

Javed Ahmed, chief executive of Tate & Lyle.

“Sugar refining has enjoyed a long and proud history within Tate & Lyle, but we believe the interests of this business and its employees are now best served by being part of a company for whom sugar refining is core,” says Javed Ahmed, chief executive of Tate & Lyle. “Tate & Lyle’s clear priority is to grow its speciality food ingredients business, supported by cash generated from bulk ingredients. This disposal will enable us to concentrate our resources on delivering our strategic objectives as we focus, fix and grow our business.”

The acquisition marks the third large-scale transaction between the two companies. ASR purchased Tate & Lyle North American Sugars (Domino Sugar) and its three refineries in 2001. More recently, ASR acquired Tate & Lyle Canada. (Redpath Sugar) in 2007, which included Canada’s largest refinery. ASR’s expertise lies in the operation of cane sugar refineries and the logistics of the related supply chain as well as the marketing of recognised retail sugar brands.

“Sugar is a global business,” points out Antonio Contreras, Jr, co-president of ASR. “This acquisition makes perfect sense for ASR. We’re sugar people who are committed to and understand the sugar business. The European acquisition in many ways mirrors our North American operations and will complement our company.”

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