British Sugar plc
FormerlyBritish Sugar Corporation Limited (1936–1982)[1]
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustrySugar beet processing
PredecessorAnglo-Scottish Beet Sugar Corporation Edit this on Wikidata
England, United Kingdom
Number of locations
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Keith Packer (managing director)

Animal feed
Soil conditioners
RevenueIncrease £714.1 million (2021)[2]
Increase £59.8 million (2021)[2]
Increase £35.3 million (2021)[2]
Number of employees
1,400 (2021)[2]
ParentAB Sugar (Associated British Foods)

British Sugar plc is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods and the sole British producer of sugar from sugar beet, as well as medicinal cannabis.

British Sugar processes all sugar beet grown in the United Kingdom, and produces about two-thirds of the United Kingdom's quota of sugar, with the remainder produced by the brand Tate & Lyle, under licence to American Sugar Refining, and by imports. British Sugar and the growers fix a contract called the "Inter Professional Agreement" determining the price paid for beet grown and the allocation of growers' quotas. The National Farmers Union (NFU) is the negotiator for the growers.


The facility at Allscott, Shropshire closed in early 2007, and has since been demolished.
British Sugar factory at Bury St Edmunds seen behind the town's railway station.

Early history

The company was formed as the British Sugar Corporation in 1936, when the British parliament nationalised the entire sugar beet crop processing industry, under the banner of British Sugar Corporation. At this time, there were 13 separate companies with 18 factories across the country. In 1972, it began selling its sugar products under the name of Silver Spoon.[3]

In 1977, a rights issue decreased the government holding from 36% to 24%. In May 1982, the company name was shortened to British Sugar plc, and later that year it was taken over by Berisford International.[4]

After a crash in property values affected Berisford, it was sold to Associated British Foods (ABF) on 2 January 1991.[5]

In 2004 the company took over independent sugar producers Billingtons, which was founded by Edward Billington and Son, as a tea and coffee trading company, in 1858.[6]


The sugar refinery in Cupar, Fife, closed in 1971 ending the growth and processing of sugar beet in Scotland; in its heyday in the mid-1930s, 1,500 farmers supplied the Cupar factory.[7] In 1981, the Ely, Felsted, Nottingham and Selby factories closed after a reduction in the allowed sugar quota. This was followed by the closure of sites at Spalding in 1989, Peterborough and Brigg in 1991, King's Lynn in 1994, Bardney and Ipswich in 2001, Kidderminster in 2002, and Allscott and York in 2007. The site at Allscott, which opened in 1927, near Telford, Shropshire, was closed because it "lacked scale" to be run economically, while the site at York, North Yorkshire (opened 1926), was closed due to the poor crop yields in northern England.[8]

Of the 18 factories which were owned by the British Sugar Corporation, only four still process beet - Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk), Cantley (in Norfolk, the second and first successful British sugar factory in 1912), Newark-on-Trent (Nottinghamshire) and Wissington (western Norfolk and the largest in Europe). The Bury site is also a major packaging plant for Silver Spoon.[9]

The 12 sites already closed have been sold and decommissioned to various degrees – many large concrete silos (for storing the major product, white granulated sugar) still remain even where the sites have been closed, including those at the Kidderminster factory which was closed in 2002 and sold off in 2006. The concrete silos at the Ipswich site were demolished in 2018, 17 years after the site closed. Allscott has now been completely demolished. Spalding has been replaced by Spalding power station.[10] BP and DuPont are working with British Sugar to build a bioethanol plant at BP's Hull site, as described in an announcement made in June 2007.[11]


British Sugar is effectively the sole buyer of all of the sugar beet grown in Britain. This output comes from around 2,300 beet growers throughout Britain.[12] There is however a proposal to start growing sugar beet in Eastern Scotland again to produce bioethanol.[13][14] British Sugar is a supplier of cannabis to GW Pharmaceuticals.[15]


The former managing director, Paul Kenward, is married to the Conservative MP and Health Minister Victoria Atkins.[16] He has since been promoted to the parent company (ABF Sugar) as the CEO there.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "BRITISH SUGAR PLC overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK". Companies House. 12 June 1936. Retrieved 10 February 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2021". British Sugar. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  3. ^ "Tesco drops the Suffolk-produced Silver Spoon sugar in favour of rival". East Anglian Daily Times. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  4. ^ "British Sugar stake". New York Times. 11 August 1982. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Obituary: Garry Weston". The Independent. UK. 16 February 2002. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  6. ^ "Our heritage". Billingtons. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  7. ^ "Cupar, Prestonhall, Trading Estate | Canmore". Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  8. ^ "Two sugar plants set to be closed". BBC News. 4 July 2006. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  9. ^ "The story of sugar in Peterborough and British Sugar". Peterborough Today. 29 October 2009. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Environmental Statement" (PDF). Ramboll. 14 April 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Vivergo opens UK's largest biorefinery plant in Hull as biofuel debate heats up". 9 July 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  12. ^ Sugar, British (1 November 2023). "Meet our Board". Latest News.
  13. ^ "Sugar beet to return to Scotland after 50 years". Farmers Guide. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Sugar beet to return to Scotland after 50 years". Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  15. ^ Bradshaw, Julia (25 October 2016). "British Sugar to cultivate cannabis plants in Norfolk for GW Pharmaceuticals". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  16. ^ Mr P.R. Kenward and Miss V.M. Atkins - Engagements Announcements Archived 11 September 2019 at the Wayback Machine in The Daily Telegraph at
  17. ^ "ABF Sugar meet our executive team". 30 May 2024. Retrieved 30 May 2024.