Why choose cane sugar over beet sugar?
Cane sugar accounts for a small minority of the total sugar and isoglucose availability in Europe due to heavy regulations. In the global sugar market the situation is however reversed, with cane sugar playing the dominant role, accounting for around 80% of total production. Cane sugar has been proven to be more sustainable in terms of how it is sourced and transported but European legislation is currently favouring beet sugar production, placing a strain on cane sugar pricing.
The SaveOurSugar campaign aims to educate and lobby for change in terms of the pricing of beet and cane sugar. To learn more about the campaign, click here
Sugar cane belongs to the grass family. It grows up to 3 metres in height in tropical and subtropical climates. The sugar cane plant uses the process of photosynthesis to make sugar and stores it in the stem. Sugar cane is a natural agricultural resource because it provides sugar as well as biofuel and fertiliser. Sugar beet is a root crop and grows in moderate and subtropical climates, mainly in France, Germany, Russia and the USA.
Cane refining has been a successful European manufacturing industry for over 400 years providing some 4,500 highly skilled jobs around the EU and essential ingredients to the retail, food manufacturing and catering sectors. Cane refiners bring healthy competition to a market otherwise dominated by beet processors and protected by punitively high import duties. Cane refiners are important to consumers, bringing competition and choice.
Cane refiners help to ensure European food security, by providing a basic foodstuff from a different raw material and manufacturing model. Cane refiners also provide the EU with an important link to global markets, and help the EU deliver its development objectives by being a stable and long-term market for the developing world.
One of the countries from which we source our raw sugar is Belize in Central America. This is where the first Tate & Lyle Sugars to be given the Fairtrade accreditation originated. Farmers plant a segment of a sugar cane and, depending on the quality of the soil and the care taken, they can expect to harvest for between three to ten years.