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Suiker Unie to end sugar production in Puttershoek

22 December 2004

Suiker Unie intends to end production of sugar at its Puttershoek factory after the 2004 campaign. The sugar factories in Groningen and Dinteloord will assume Puttershoek’s production. The beet growers’ geographical position in relation to the sugar factories was the decisive factor in the decision. The proposed closure will lead to the loss of 135 jobs. Suiker Unie will try to find alternative positions for the staff concerned, in part through the early retirement of older employees both at the Puttershoek and at the other Suiker Unie sites.

Ending sugar production in Puttershoek will realise further efficiency gains and anticipate changes in the European Union’s sugar policy. Current EU proposals include a reform of the sugar market organisation and a reduction in beet and sugar prices. The European sugar quota may also be cut and thus the sugar beet acreage. The impact of these measures will be amplified by limits on sugar exports from the EU and higher imports from third countries.

EU policy will exert pressure on margins. Higher costs, including labour and environmental costs, will have to be offset by efficiency improvements. It will no longer be possible to compensate for the consequences of a potential sharp fall in prices and a lower quota through gradual efficiency measures. Closure of the Puttershoek sugar factory is necessary to secure Suiker Unie’s long-term continuity.

Suiker Unie will remain active in Puttershoek with the production of specialities, including brown sugar, icing sugar and sugar cubes for consumers and industrial customers.

Suiker Unie’s works council has been asked for its formal opinion on the proposed closure. Talks will also be held with the trade unions.