The EU sugar market has long been regulated by quotas which imposed limits on production of beet sugar. However, since September 30th, production and export restrictions have been lifted as part of the Common Agricultural Policy reforms. European sugar groups are now able to produce and export as much as they want. Traders have already said that they think this move will significantly boost production and reduce the price of sugar to EU consumers.
Unfortunately, this isn’t going to help to solve the huge obesity problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the UK and many countries throughout Europe and the US. Just at a time when the Government is planning to impose a sugar tax on soft drinks and beverages, we will be flooded with cheap sugar which will almost certainly find its way into processed food, confectionary, cakes and biscuits.
I find it extraordinary that, on the one hand, the Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs is welcoming the quota lifting, while the Department of Health agonises about how to reduce sugar content in our national diet. As far as I am aware, this move to lift production restrictions was not widely discussed among the member states or even known about – instead, it was a decision made by bureaucrats in Brussels.