London MEP Marina Yannakoudakis hosted a working lunch at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday for MEPs and representatives of Europe’s sugar cane refining industry.

 The event brought together prominent members of the parliament’s agriculture and rural development committee (AGRI) in an effort to address the problems facing the sector.

 Refiners from the UK, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria voiced their concerns on the impending abolition of beet quotas in 2017. The decision to abolish the quota was passed following CAP negotiations in 2013.

 Gerald Mason of UK-based sugar refiners Tate & Lyle said “We need to look forward now the CAP deal is done and find new ways to get a fair deal for cane refiners in Europe. It is great to know we have the invaluable support of the task force and Marina as we move to that next phase of our campaign.”

 From 2017, beet producers will be free to grow as much as they like, whilst cane refiners will find themselves subjected to existing importation tariffs and restrictions.

 Speaking on the issue, Marina said “It is vital we act now to save our cane sector. Deregulating one sector whilst maintaining restrictions on another is ludicrous, if we want genuine competition, the EU has to ensure that all sectors are competing in a fair environment.”

 If no action is taken the cane sector faces thousands of job losses and an ever-decreasing share of the sugar market. Tate & Lyle currently employs 5000 people across the UK.