Beet industry lobby groups to join forces
The two groups working to get the Irish sugar industry back up and going are to join forces and launch a joint initiative.
At a public meeting in Athy last Thursday, Michael Hoey, head of BEET Ireland and chief executive of Country Crest Foods in Ashbourne, Co Meath, confirmed that he is to meet his Irish Sugar Biorefinery Group counterpart, Chris Comerford, next Monday.
There is a growing consensus within both camps that a combined effort to restart sugar production here would have a better chance of success.
The Irish Sugar Biorefinery Group is to publish its feasibility study this week and it is expected that the report will be broadly positive.
More than 250 farmers turned out for the Athy meeting -- the second of three such meetings which are being organised by Beet Ireland.
The business plan behind the BEET Ireland plan was set out by Chris Harmon, the financial controller at Country Crest.
He said the group aimed to build a modular plant which would grow production in a staged basis to a final target of processing 1.8m tonnes of beet.
The aim is to initially target the domestic sugar market -- which is estimated to amount to 150,000t of sugar and costs Irish businesses €200m a year -- and then expand output to 250,000t. The plant would also produce 1.25m litres of bio-ethanol as well as running a 50Mw power plant.