By John Giles
Sugar is a highly cyclical business with aspects of a ‘roller coaster ride’ in terms of price and profitability meaning a ‘genuine long term vision’ for the company is required.
Since the deregulation of the EU sugar regime at the end of last year, British Sugar managing director Paul Kenward said there had been a record UK crop and prices had been towards the bottom of the price cycle.
With sugar being a globally traded commodity and one of the most volatile soft products, there was a need to invest in efficient processing plants, agronomy, farm mechanisation and crop genetics to make British Sugar a highly competitive business.
Addressing an event run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Mr Kenward said the business was focusing on listening not only to customers more, but excelling in product, service and logistics, as well as price.
There was also a need to listen to other key stakeholders in the business, as well as the 3,000 growers who supply them and British Sugar employees.
More immediately, the business had to face up to new challenges which might appear as a result of post-Brexit trade deals with countries such as Brazil, the US and Thailand, all of whom in some way benefit from substantial Government subsidies.
Mr Kenward said: “As one of the lowest cost producers in the world, British Sugar can compete with anyone fairly, but not against what might be seen as dumped, subsidised sugar.
“The requirement is for the business to be more nimble, decisive and proactive and to work more closely internally and externally.
“There is a need for a more open attitude towards learning from others in agriculture and food industries and, in some cases, even from outside this sector.”
Mr Kenward said work was ongoing to ‘update’ the British Sugar brand, which had remained practically unchanged since the late 1970s.