Monday, December 10, 2018

Growers frustrated after British Sugar takes down online portal

December 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

NFU Sugar says it is extremely concerned about the impact on growers after technical problems forced British Sugar to take down its online grower portal in the middle of the sugar beet campaign.

NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said: “I think I speak on behalf of all growers in expressing my disappointment and frustration that this has happened. This portal provides the information that growers and hauliers need to get beet into British Sugar factories.”

Mr Sly said the portal wasn’t just a nice to have online tool – it was crucial for growing and delivering sugar beet efficiently. “NFU Sugar will closely monitor the effectiveness of the interim measures British Sugar puts in place to communicate with growers and hauliers.

Competition

“More generally, we are concerned about the continued, historic, lack of investment by Associated British Foods into British Sugar. Until greater investment is forthcoming, the home grown sugar industry will struggle to compete effectively in the post-quota world.”

British Sugar agriculture director Colm McKay said: “We have been experiencing technical difficulties with the our online beet account system. To investigate the cause of the problem and understand how to fix it the system will be down for the near future.

“We appreciate this will be frustrating for our growers and hauliers but our priority is to ensure the system is fully operational. In the meantime we have put in place a number of plans to provide support and minimise the disruption.”

Investment

Mr McKay said these measures had included extending the hours for British Sugar’s grower services helpdesk, providing paper copies of documents and speaking to growers directly to offer support during the campaign.

Responding to the suggestion that British Sugar should invest more, Mr McKay said the processor had embarked on a massive investment programme in recent years. It was also continuing to invest in crop research and development.

“To make our factories and operations more efficient in the past five years alone we’ve invested £250m as well as, together with our growers, investing £2m a year in R&D through the British Beet Research Organisation.”

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