Revival of once buoyant sugar sector moving closer, says campaign group
Tillage farmers have been urged to consider growing sugar beet as a push gets underway to revive the industry with a new processing factory.
Michael Hoey, who is behind prepared foods business Country Crest and Beet Ireland campaign group, told farmers gathered at an Irish Grain Growers meeting in Co Wexford that he felt they were moving closer to reviving the once buoyant sugar sector.
It is understood that a potential site has been located close to the Carlow/Kildare border.
Mr Hoey said the timeline on potentially reigniting the sugar beet industry was up to the “suppliers” who needed to agree to grow the crop as EU sugar quota restrictions have now been lifted.
“The customers are there waiting to buy Irish sugar again, the road is free thanks to the government and all the people who made that happen. We can produce a better product than anyone else,” he said, adding they felt they would be able to raise the multi-million euro investment for a potential plant.
“If you go out there tomorrow and say we want the Irish consumer to buy our produce and we want to produce it. I believe everybody can stand up and listen and it can happen very quickly in this case.”
Mr Hoey said the tillage industry has “been sliding for quite a while”. “With those quotas dropped in October just gone, today if you were to produce sugar on your farm or backyard you are legally entitled to do it,” he said, adding there were not limits on it.
“There are lots of countries out there, especially Arabian countries, that have a need for sugar.”