AB Sugar Latest News

 media - latest news
Please select a news article from below
Red Tractor’s sugar beet and cereals assurance standards combined with UK legislative requirements have achieved Silver level equivalence with SAI Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) 2.0.
 
For the last eight years, all the sugar beet supplied to British Sugar has been Red Tractor farm assured.  By working together as an industry the two organisations are driving sustainable agriculture that promotes environmental protection, embraces creating a quality product and drives safety in the efficient production of sugar beet. 
 
Laurence Matthews, Red Tractor’s Combinable Crops and Sugar Beet Board Chairman, said: “The world’s biggest food and drink brands are scrutinising their supply chains more than ever before. It’s becoming imperative that companies such as British Sugar, who supply these brands, can demonstrate sustainable sourcing policies. 
 
“Not only does this achievement mean that British Sugar continues to be a great supporter of sugar beet grown in the UK, it also demonstrates that Red Tractor’s growers produce a quality product to standards that major brands recognise as sustainable”. 
 
Simon Leeds, Grower Engagement Manager for British Sugar said: “This is great news for the UK sugar beet industry and recognises the outstanding work being achieved by our growers. 
 
“At British Sugar we are proud of our sustainability track record – and will continue to drive our work to build efficient, productive and responsible value chains working with all our partners’. 
 
-ends-
 
Press contacts:
 
Claire Hargreaves, British Sugar Communications Manager, 01733 422945 claire.hargreaves@britishsugar.com
Ben Pike, Red Tractor PR Consultant, 07832168560 ben@benpikecommunications.co.uk
 
NOTES TO EDITORS:

British Sugar is the leading supplier to the British and Irish food and beverage markets.  We operate four factories across East Anglia and the East Midlands employing around 900 permanent staff directly at our facilities and support up to 13,000 UK jobs in the wider economy. 
 
Around 3,400 growers supply our factories with 7.5 million tonnes of sugar beet each year, which we process into over 1 million tonnes of sugar. 
 
We are committed to supporting our sugar beet growers and there is an established R&D and knowledge transfer programme via the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) and free grower support via British Sugar’s field force. The effectiveness of this approach can be seen with beet yields increasing by over 60% since 1980.  This work is continuing and sugar beet is one of the fastest yield increasing broad-acre crops. 
 
The UK sugar beet industry has focussed efforts towards minimising the use of inputs which has resulted in 90% reduced insecticides, 50% reduced active ingredients (pesticides) and 40% reduced nitrogen fertilisers. 95% of the UK crop is rain-fed with minimal effect on irrigation water supplies and application energy. 
 
Sugar production is at the heart of our operations but using our highly integrated approach to manufacturing, we aim to transform all of our raw materials into sustainable products. We produce 500,000 tonnes of animal feed from sugar beet pulp. We recycle stones for building, lime for soil conditioning and soil for landscaping. Using our Combined Heat & Power plants, we export enough electricity for 165,000 homes and use the combustion gases to grow around 140 million tomatoes annually in the UKs largest single tomato glasshouse. We were also the first company to manufacture Bioethanol in the UK in 2007 and can now produce up to 55,000 tonnes on an annual basis.
 
Over the past 10 years, we have invested over £300 million to improve efficiency and competitiveness. 
 
We employ technicians, apprentices, graduates and experienced professionals for roles across the business and throughout the supply chain including engineers, accountants and project managers. Over past 10 years, we have recruited and trained over 100 graduates and 90 apprentices
 
British Sugar is part of AB Sugar, which is wholly owned by international food, ingredients and retail group, Associated British Foods plc.
 
For further information visit www.britishsugar.com
 
RED TRACTOR
 
Red Tractor was established in 2000 and has grown to become the UK’s biggest farm and food standards scheme, covering all of animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. The way that our food is farmed and prepared is regularly checked by independent experts to make sure it is of a good standard.
 
 
SAI
 
By using the FSA tool, SAI Platform aims to increase the consistency of communication within the food and beverage supply chains about sustainability expectations. At the same time, FSA significantly reduces the time and expense involved in the inevitable duplication at farm and supply base levels from carrying out multiple assessments and assurances. It also promotes continuous improvement in the sustainable production of agricultural resources.
 
 FSA 2.0 consists of three levels of questions; essential, basic and advanced. FSA 2.0 scoring is reflected in performance levels; bronze, silver and gold:
 
  • Bronze refers to a minimum 100% coverage of essentials and 75% of basic
  • Silver refers to a minimum 100% coverage of essentials and 80% of basic and 50% of advanced
  • Gold refers to a minimum 100% coverage of essentials, 100% of basic and 75% of advanced.
 
Statement in response to the ‘Bittersweet – Sustainability issues in the sugar cane supply chain’ Report, December 2015 | Attributable to AB Sugar Ltd

“With limited detail, SOMO has attempted to use Illovo Sugar Malawi Limited as a case study to gain publicity at the expense of accuracy. ISML is not, and has never been, involved in “land grabs”.  It is therefore regrettable that our leading approach to land has not been recognised nor our internationally acclaimed land guidelines.  It is also regrettable that ISML’s significant contribution to the livelihoods and economies of the Malawian communities has been ignored”.
 
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Listed on the JSE Limited in South Africa and holds 76% of the issued share capital of Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited.  Group website: www.illovosugar.com.
 
Illovo Malawi submitted a full and accurate response on 6 November 2015 to SOMO’s draft report and requested that the inaccurate and misleading information in the report be remedied.  It is clear that in collating information for its report, the organisation did not engage with all relevant stakeholders, least of all the management and staff of the company itself.
 
As a group operating across six African countries, the Illovo group is committed to ensuring that legitimate land tenure rights are adhered to and supports and respects the protection of internationally recognised human rights as entrenched in it's Code of Conduct and Business Ethics. Further information on the Illovo Group can be found at www.illovosugar.com
 
 
Illovo follows internationally recognised health and safety standards and the Group’s objective is to continue to create a safe working environment for its employees and surrounding communities, as encapsulated in its 2015 Human Capital Report.
 
The NOSA Integrated Five-Star System covering safety, health and environmental management is implemented at Illovo Malawi’s cane growing and factory operations.  All have been accredited with a minimum Four-Star rate during the 2014/15 sugar milling season.  Both Merebank and Glendale in South Africa received Occupational Health and Safety Management System OHSAS 18001:1999 accreditation.
 
Illovo Malawi recognises that land is an extremely contentious issue across the country, particularly in the Nchalo and Dwangwa areas, and the company has not been involved in any land grabs.  The Illovo group acquired a majority shareholding in Lonrho Sugar Corporation Limited (“Lonrho”) in 1997 and since that time, Illovo has not expanded its land holdings beyond the areas that were leased to Lonrho in the 1970s.  
 
ISML does not own any land in Malawi – it has long-term legitimate leases for the land it uses, which were granted to Lonrho by the government in the 1970s. Accordingly, the allegations that Illovo has grabbed land in the SOMO report are false.
 
Illovo Malawi is currently not involved in any new business or other developments requiring additional land.
 
Recognising the complexity of land issues, Illovo has spent a great deal of time and resources attempting to resolve or broker settlements of various competing land claims which have arisen as a result of land allocations made long before Illovo even commenced conducting business in Malawi. Our efforts in this regard have received international acclaim. As part of our endeavours, we have set up a multi-disciplinary committee comprising representatives of NGOs, local community members, local authority officials, land experts and other salient stakeholders to find a long-term resolution, as we recognise the need to endeavour to resolve disputes that adversely impact the communities in which we operate, even in relation to issues in which ISML has no involvement. One of these interventions has already led to a settlement in principle of one of the land disputes in the Mlala area.
 
With regard to the SOMO report’s Chapter 4.2, “Workforce: Permanent, seasonal and agency workers”, all company contracts with external service providers include terms requiring them to manage their employees according to statutory provisions and in accordance with our publically available Code of Conduct and Business Ethics and other policies (including our Forced and Child Labour Guidelines).  
 
Illovo Malawi contracts also enforce safety (including the use of protective equipment), age requirement (no child labour) and compliance with national laws and regulations, and supply chain compliance audits are conducted.
 
Illovo Malawi’s permanent and seasonal jobs are graded using the Paterson Grading System.  The only exception between permanent and seasonal workers is that seasonal workers are engaged for the duration of the million season only, at the end of which a gratuity is paid as provided in the Malawi Employment Amendment Act.  Seasonal workers are also entitled to join the bargaining unit of the union which negotiates a uniform rate across the grades, irrespective of whether a job is agricultural or industrial, seasonal or permanent.  
 
Illovo Malawi seasonal workers have access to medical services provided at the company’s clinics under the same terms as the many local communities which surround our cane fields.
 
Illovo Malawi does not have any “agency” workers and only employs permanent employees, seasonal workers and independent service providers / contractors.  In terms of our contracts with external service providers, they are required to manage their employees according to statutory provisions, and in accordance with our publically available Code of Conduct and Business Ethics and other policies (including our Forced and Child Labour Guidelines). Illovo Malawo contracts also enforce safety (including the use of protective equipment), age requirement (no child labour) and compliance with national laws and regulations, and supply chain compliance audits are conducted.
 
Illovo Malawi continues to work with both The Ministry of Labour and the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) and offers its union officials time away from work to attend union business.
 
The company was awarded the 2014 top employer award by the Employer Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) which was audited independently by KPMG.  The audit covered gender, employment policies, health and safety, staff development, HIV aids workplace policies and more.  Employee benefits are outlined in the Illovo Group Citizenship Report which can be viewed at www.illovosugar.com.    
 
Illovo Malawi has successfully negotiated with unions and Government to regulate working hours.  Workers are no longer permitted to work seven days a week and must have at least one day off per weekly shift cycle.  
 
For further information, please contact Chris Barrie or Simon Hodges at Citigate Dewe Rogerson on +44 (0)20 7638 9571
 

Attributable to Sharon Fisher, Communications Manager, AB Sugar
 
As part of Sugar Awareness Week, we would like to see efforts made to provide people with robust information on diet and lifestyle so they can make their own informed choices.  Focusing solely on one single ingredient when obesity is so complex is not going to resolve rising obesity rates.  
We know from our own research that around four in five people are interested in learning more about what a balanced diet consists of*.  That is why we launched the Making Sense of Sugar campaign which provides people with the facts on what a balanced diet and lifestyle looks like and the role sugar can play. 
 
Notes to Editors
*Research conducted by Reputation leaders in July/ August 2015 amongst 2000 UK (18+ adults). The sample was nationally representative on age, gender, and region.
For more information, including tips for a balanced diet and lifestyle, please visit www.makingsenseofsugar.com or follow us on Twitter @senseofsugar
Government Family Food Statistics show that since 2001, consumption of total sugars has declined by 12.5 per cent per capita in the UK: Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA): www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
 
Attributable to Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy, AB Sugar 
 
As part of Sugar Awareness Week, we would like the discussion to focus on all of the potential solutions to improving obesity rates, rather than solely on one ingredient.  Obesity is an extremely complex issue - Government data shows that in the UK, total sugars consumption has declined by 12.5% per capita since 2001, whilst obesity rates continue to rise*. We therefore believe that we all need to work together to tackle increasing obesity rates. As a starting point, we would like to see the introduction of a cross-departmental taskforce to formulate workable solutions across the whole of government.   
 
A critical part of tackling the current obesity crisis is also to look at the scientific evidence to inform future policy approaches that will enable people to make more informed decisions including diet and lifestyle.  The science tells us that the starting point for diet is calories (energy) in and calories (out).  
We are committed to playing our part to finding real and workable solutions to the obesity crisis. However, these must be based on robust scientific evidence rather than the inaccuracies and misinformation currently driving the debate.
 
Notes to Editors

2020health is an independent, social enterprise think tank whose mission is to “Make Health Personal” – Giving people the information, understanding and confidence to take a meaningful role in their health and wellbeing, and creating the conditions for a healthy society.
2020health recently published a report ‘Fat Chance?’ which examines the wealth of current knowledge and data on obesity and addresses one crucial question: ‘Who exactly is becoming obese?’. The report highlighted that ignorance of who becomes obese and simplistic solutions will mean Britain’s economic prosperity remains vulnerable.
The report follows 2020health’s report, “Careless eating, costs lives” which sets out the essential responses to halting progression and reversing the drastic effects of overweight on individual health, employment, social care and the wider economy.
AB Sugar provided 2020health with unrestricted educational grants for both reports.
*Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA): www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
For further information on the Making Sense of Sugar campaign, please visit www.makingsenseofsugar.com or follow us on Twitter @senseofsugar
 

A year on since their last report ‘Careless Eating Costs Lives’, 2020health has released a new study examining the wealth of current knowledge and data on obesity titled 'Fat Chance? Exploring the evidence of who becomes obese'  The study seeks to address one crucial question: ‘Who exactly is becoming obese?’

The study looked at 16 data-sets to determine ‘who’ is obese in the UK, and what are the key correlates linked to rising levels of obesity.  Julia Manning, Chief Executive, 2020health believes the report confirms the incredibly complex nature of the challenge that we face to improve the health of the nation.

To view a copy of 2020healths press release and report, please click here

 Note to editors:

  •  2020health is an independent, social enterprise think tank whose mission is to “Make Health Personal” - Giving people the information, understanding and confidence to take a meaningful role in their health and wellbeing, and creating the conditions for a healthy society.
  • The report builds on last year’s report: ‘Careless Eating, Costs Lives’, for which AB Sugar also provided 2020Health with an unrestricted educational grant.
  •  For further information on the Making Sense of Sugar campaign, visit www.makingsenseofsugar.com or follow us on Twitter @senseofsugar.

 

AB Sugar has this week been recognised by the PR Week Awards, receiving the award for Best use of Planning, Strategy and Evaluation 2015 for its Making Sense of Sugar campaign.

Obesity is a complex issue with many different factors at play. AB Sugar remains committed to playing a part in developing solutions to tackle the obesity crisis. One of these solution is the Making Sense of Sugar campaign, a campaign which was launched just over a year ago and aims to present the science and facts about sugar in a way which is simple, straightforward and informative and based on robust scientific evidence. 

 The highly-regarded PR Week Award recognises the thorough and insight-driven planning, strategy and evaluation techniques across the campaign, with planning driving every detail. This ensures that the campaign is genuinely providing individuals with the information they need to enable them to make an informed decision on what a balanced diet and lifestyle looks like, the link between ‘calories in’ and ‘calories out’ and the role that sugars can play as part of their diet. Through regular polling and also focus group research, the campaign is are able to ensure it remains relevant and useful to target audiences.

 To date, the campaign has made significant progress: 1.5m more adults believe sugar can be part of a healthy balanced diet – now totalling 40% of the population. In addition, 2.5m more adults now understand there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sugar and only one in ten believe sugar is the lead cause of obesity. This is combined with a strong media presence, leading to a reduction in negative coverage from 81% to 50% in consumer media.

 Commenting on the Making Sense of Sugar campaign, PR Week Award judge, Patrick Southwell, said that the campaign was “Scientific, measured, full of insight and properly planned. Strong results also make this stand out.”

 Receiving the Award, Sharon Fisher, Communications Manager, AB Sugar said:

 “We are delighted that Making Sense of Sugar campaign has been recognised by the PR Week Awards - the most prestigious Awards in the PR and communications sector.  We believe sugar can be part of a healthy balanced diet, and science currently supports this.  There is a global obesity crisis, but consumption of ‘total sugars’ per head has decreased over the last decade in the UK. It is a complex issue and for many consumers, with lots of conflicting advice, it can be a confusing one. This is where Making Sense of Sugar comes in – providing people with information which enables them to make informed choices about the food they eat and have a better understanding of sugar and the role it can play in their diet“

Visit www.makingsenseofsugar.com or follow-us @senseofsugar

The bespoke facility at Centrum, Norwich Research Park’s research, innovation and business hub, accommodates senior members of Germains’ Research and Development team with a strategic focus on the science of seed priming and crop development.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, chief executive officer at Norwich Research Park, welcomed Germains to the £11.5m Centrum building saying:

“We are delighted Germains Seed Technology has chosen Norwich Research Park as a location to further research seed priming and crop development. This reinforces our global position in creating a unique cluster of business and research organisations with world-leading science credentials. ”
 
In addition to existing Research and Development facilities in the UK, Netherlands and the US, the opening of the latest state-of-the-art laboratory further strengthens Germains’ existing links with scientific and business partners at Norwich Research Park. Demonstrating commitment to science and development, work has now started in the new laboratory.
 
“With our new laboratory at Centrum, Germains benefits from the expertise and technical infrastructure at Norwich Research Park. We already collaborate with the John Innes Centre and we are looking to build new collaborations with other institutions, too.” said Senior scientist, Dr Hamad Siddiqui.
 
Dr. Gerard Mulqueen, European business director said: “This fundamental research facility at Norwich Research Park’s Centrum laboratories is a further enhancement to our product development programme, enabling Germains to continue meeting the future needs of our customers and the industry as a whole.”
 
Germains joins more than 40 other businesses based at Norwich Research Park including four world-renowned research institutes, the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.

To read more about Germains, click here

Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy:

It is important to remember that there is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling obesity. We urge policy-makers to be mindful of the unintended consequences of focusing on one type of ingredient. We therefore suggest a cross-departmental taskforce be explored to tackle the complex issue of obesity.

“Jamie Oliver has a great track record on campaigning for public good and his commitment to helping further health education. 

"However, while Jamie’s intentions are clear, Government data shows that, despite a fall in total sugars consumption over the last 14 years, obesity rates continue to rise, proving the complexity of the obesity crisis. Whilst clearly reducing sugars can help people lose or control their weight, we need to look at diet within the context of lifestyle, with the starting point being calories (energy) in and calories (energy) out.

"What’s required is collaborative action to find real and workable solutions to the obesity crisis. We are committed to playing our part.

“We do not believe that a tax on sugar is the right answer to what is a complicated issue with a multitude of causes. There is no conclusive evidence that a sugar tax will have the desired effect or prompt a change in consumer behaviour.  While tax is often used by governments to reduce consumption of certain consumer goods, in light of decreasing trends of total sugars consumption over the past decade In the UK, we question if a tax would be an appropriate measure”.

Note to editors:

In Denmark, a tax was introduced in 2011 on food containing more than 2.3g of saturated fat which was repealed after just 15 months with no measurable impact on dietary habits*.

Recent research by a market research company, Reputation Leader, using a nationally representative sample size of 2,000 across the UK indicates that consumers don’t believe a sugar tax on foods and beverages would help them live a more balanced diet and lifestyle. ”

 

Sharon Fisher, Communications Manager, Making Sense of Sugar

“People are bombarded with differing advice on what to eat and drink, often leading to confusion. We welcome any guidance which helps inform policy-makers, particularly when it comes to helping people better understand what they eat and drink as part of a balanced diet.  However, given that the scientific focus of the report was dietary carbohydrates and health outcomes in the round, we question whether the dietary recommendations which focus on one type of ingredient alone – sugars - will reduce levels of obesity, which remains a key focus for the UK. 

“According to the report’s recommendations, consumers should halve their ‘free’ sugars intake while also significantly increasing their fibre intake, which is certainly a challenge. For example, anyone could easily find themselves over their daily ‘free’ sugars intake limit by lunchtime – so at breakfast, if you have anything more than a 150ml glass of orange juice and a regular 125g fruit-based yoghurt, then at lunch you consume a bowl of tomato soup you could well be over the limit. It will be interesting to see how this works in practice and translates into a consumer’s daily diet.

“The challenge of tackling obesity is complex and, whilst helping people to be more aware of the calories they are consuming – whether through sugars or other types of ingredients - is important, focusing on one type of ingredient alone is not going to solve the issue. We believe people need to look at diet within the context of lifestyle, with the starting point being calories (energy) in and calories (energy) out.  

Additional Information:

SACN recommends that adults increase their daily total intake of fibre to 30g/day. This too presents challenges in that many fibre containing foods also contain sugars.  For example, 30g of fibre would equate to five portions of fruit, two slices of wholemeal bread, a portion of high fibre breakfast cereal, a baked potato and a portion of whole wheat pasta. Consuming these foods could take someone beyond today’s recommended guidelines on ‘total’ sugars limit.

Definitions:

‘Free’ sugars: SACN (S.17 – Carbohydrates and Health report. Scientific Consultation, 17 July 2015) defines free sugars as all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. Under this definition lactose when naturally present in milk and milk products is excluded.

Total sugars: The European Food Safety Authority defines sugars as total sugars, including both indigenous (sugars naturally present in foods such as fruit, vegetables, cereals and lactose in milk products) and added sugars (EFSA, 2009). The term ‘added sugars’ refers to sucrose, fructose, glucose starch hydrolysates (glucose syrup, high-fructose syrup, isoglucose) and other isolated sugar preparations used as such, or added during food preparation and manufacturing.

The Reference Intake Amount of total sugars for an adult is 90g.

Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy, AB Sugar

“We welcome the work of SACN and the experts who have contributed to the guidelines. However, we are concerned at the true value of the guidelines.

“It is important to remember, there is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling obesity and whilst helping people to be more aware of the calories they are consuming – whether through sugars or other types of ingredients - is important, we would  urge policy-makers to be mindful of the unintended consequences of focusing on one type of ingredient in isolation. “For this reason, we suggest a holistic approach needs to be taken, one that includes a mixture of educational and regulatory measures. While it is up to the Government to decide how to implement today’s recommendations, we suggest that a cross-departmental taskforce be explored in order to tackle the complex issue of obesity. We would urge policy-makers to further consider how this may work in practice to bring about a more integrated approach across government in tackling obesity.

“What’s required is collaborative action to find real and workable solutions to the obesity crisis. We are committed to playing our part.”
 

Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy: “This story shines a light on the fact that it can be confusing for parents to work out what foods to give their children as part of a balanced diet. It also highlights how important it is that we all play our part in helping everyone better understand what constitutes a balanced diet and the role sugars can play as part of this. 

However, it is worrying that people still think that sugars can be hidden. The reality is that manufacturers are required by law to provide nutritional information on all pre-packaged foods and drinks found in the UK, and to suggest otherwise could further confuse consumers.

We believe parents would benefit more from understanding what food labels mean, in order to consider the total calorie intake for their children. This means that they can make an informed decision on what to consume, considering diet and how active their family’s lifestyle is as a whole.

We are in favour of a sensible approach to tackling obesity, one that recognises that a focus on one single ingredient or product type is not the answer but instead considers the many different contributory factors – both diet and lifestyle.

What’s required is collaborative action to find real and workable solutions to the obesity crisis as well as helping address consumer confusion about what a balanced diet really means.”

Journalist Fiona Phillips looked at the facts and fiction behind sugar in the BBC programme The Truth About Sugar (aired 19 March 2015) 

Sharon Fisher, Communications Manager, AB Sugar

“We watched with interest last night’s programme and welcome the efforts to inform and educate consumers on the properties of sugars and the role they can play as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
 
As ‘The Truth About Sugar’ highlighted, the current conditional recommendation from the World Health Organisation (that 'free sugars'* make up no more than 5% of total energy intake) can be very difficult to achieve, and as the WHO themselves acknowledge is based on science which could be described as weak. However, we were surprised to see a lack of distinction, throughout the programme, between 'sugar' and 'sugars', which can be misleading and confusing for consumers, who may not realise that sugars take many forms beyond commonly recognisable table sugar.

We were also disappointed to see the programme suggest that certain sugars are better than others as the body doesn’t distinguish between sugars used in manufacturing or in the kitchen, and those sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables. For example, sucrose in an apple is broken down in exactly the same way as the sucrose in your sugar bowl.

It also is misleading to suggest that sugars can be measured in spoonfuls, when many sugars are naturally occurring in products themselves, for example in the fruit of the tomato ketchup that was referenced in last night’s programme.

Sugars have no more calories than any other ingredient. On a gram for gram basis, sugars and starch, as well as protein, contain similar amounts of calories per gram, while fat actually contains more than twice as many - a distinction that wasn't made in the programme.
 
It is also important to point out that sugars cannot be 'hidden' as all sugars are listed on the nutritional label of food and drink products in the UK. We do appreciate, however, that some consumers may find labelling confusing and that is why it is important to educate everyone to help them better understand what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet. It is crucial to look at your total calorie intake, rather than focusing on a single ingredient, and understand that it's just as important to think about your physical activity levels as well as what you are consuming."

* Added sugars (also known as free sugars) are those used in manufacturing or added by the cook or consumer. Naturally occurring sugars are those found naturally in a product e.g. fruit or vegetables.

The WHO recommendations can be found here.
 

Published on 4 March 2015, a new World Health Organisation guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake.

Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy, AB Sugar

“Globally, the World Health Organisation’s recommendation is that intake of sugars is less than 10% of total energy from what they refer to as “free sugars”.

“It is important to remember, however, there is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling obesity. While it is up to individual governments to decide how to implement today’s recommendations, we would urge policy-makers to be mindful of the unintended consequences of focusing on one ingredient in isolation. We welcome the opportunity to review and understand in more detail the scientific evidence used to develop these new guidelines.  It appears for both recommendations ‘moderate’ and ‘very low quality’ evidence has been used in the process respectively.

 “We also want to ensure that consumers are not further confused about their daily sugars intake, particularly when the guidelines released today would mean drinking anything more than glass 150ml of orange juice and a low fat fruit yogurt at breakfast time would take you over your limit. [1]
 
“What’s required is collaborative action to find real and workable solutions to the obesity crisis. We are committed to playing our part.”

Julian Cooper, Head of Food Science, AB Sugar

“Globally, the World Health Organisation’s recommendation is that intake of sugars is less than 10% of total energy from what they refer to as “free sugars”.
 
“We have the greatest respect for the World Health Organisation’s commitment to science and evidence-based policy making and its leadership on global health matters. However, we are surprised to learn from today’s announcement that the draft recommendations (issued in March 2014) - less than 10% recommendation and 5% (conditional) recommendation - have been upheld.  We welcome the opportunity to review and understand in more detail the scientific evidence used to develop these new guidelines.  It appears for both recommendations ‘moderate’ and ‘very low quality’ evidence has been used in the process respectively. [2]
 
“It’s important to note that sugars are not ‘hidden’ in food and beverages in the UK.  There are clear European food laws which ensure all ‘total sugars’ are labelled within the nutritional information to help inform and educate consumers of what is contained within their foods and drinks.”


[1] McCance & Widdowson: The Composition of Food (7th Edition)
[2] As referenced in WHO’s “Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children”

 

Zambia Sugar today announced details of a major investment project at its Nakambala sugar operations at Mazabuka which will give further impetus to the development of Zambian smallholder cane farmers and provide employment opportunities for local people during the construction phase scheduled for completion in 2016.

The project scope includes the construction of a modern, high-specification refinery to more than double current annual refined sugar production capacity to around 100 000 tons and increase annual sugar production capacity from 420 000 to 450 000 tons through a range of smaller factory improvements. This project consolidates Zambia Sugar’s position as Africa's single-biggest cane sugar producer and underlines the broader Illovo group strategy of focusing on growth within its domestic and regional markets and downstream opportunities to diversify its product mix.

The increased cane supply for the improved Nakambala factory will come primarily from area expansions of which the smallholder development at Manyonyo, involving some 145 individual growers, is a major part. This development will benefit the local community in terms of both revenues derived from the supply of cane to the factory and, as part of a broader multiplier effect, employment opportunities for seasonal agricultural workers and other job creation opportunities.

It is estimated that upwards of 400 people will be employed during the construction phase of the project. Aligned with Zambia Sugar’s existing employment policy, priority in the recruitment process will be given to local people with the necessary skills.

The key driver for the investment in Zambia is the strong historical and forecast domestic refined sugar sales growth which has been primarily driven by demand from domestic and regional industrial manufacturers. The project also brings with it a unique opportunity to align Zambia Sugar’s manufacturing assets behind a new post-EU export sales mix and higher food safety standards. This strategy will ensure that both direct consumers and industrial customers of the range of Whitespoon branded products will continue to receive the sugar and syrup products which they like best at the exacting quality standards they demand (Annex 1 – Group Investor Presentation December 2014 – African Growth Rationale).

The project cost amounts to more than ZMW522 million (US$: 82 million), funded by debt finance largely sourced from within Zambia itself and from Zambia Sugar’s own available cash resources. As such, the investment underlines the company's commitment to the economic growth and prosperity of Zambia, and aligns it strongly with the Government's clearly stated desire for greater levels of direct investment. It is also important to note that the Nakambala factory is situated in a predominantly rural area and that this investment continues to support the company’s efforts towards rural development. 

The project will utilise standard Zambian tax allowances as legislated, and which are in place to encourage capital investment in the country.

Commenting on the expansion investment, the newly appointed Zambia Sugar Managing Director Rebecca Katowa said: "The company's strategic plan focuses on diversification through value addition to its core sugar products as key to achieving sustainable growth. This project, together with our previous significant expansion of the agricultural and factory operations serves as growing evidence of this strategy and of our support of government initiatives to promote rural development. We are especially pleased that this investment touches on the continuing development of our successful small-holder sector whose increasing cane supplies to the factory are fully supported in the project plan and on further job opportunities for local Zambian people."

During the most recent reporting period ending March 2014, Zambia Sugar’s outgrower partners supplied a total of 1.29 million tons of cane for processing at the factory, generating revenue of ZMW 332 million. Of this revenue, approximately ZMW 66 million was paid directly to small-holder farmer schemes, directly and positively impacting economic growth, enterprise development and job creation directly and through multiple support services such as cane haulage and land preparation. The continuing emergence of new small-holder schemes, with which the company is directly involved, reflects Zambia Sugar’s commitment to support the development of sustainable, commercially-directed farming business models and governance systems in the company’s growing community (Annex 2: Sustainability Report, 2014 Zambia Sugar Annual Report).

In the six months to 30 September 2014, the company reported that revenue attributable to the half year increased by 5% to ZMW966 million and profit from operations increased by 3% to ZMW149 million, on the back of a solid performance in both agricultural and manufacturing operations (Annex 3: Zambia Sugar Interim Results, November 2014).

Zambia Sugar wishes to place on record its appreciation for the significant support it has received through the various incentives that the Zambian government offers to investors. Says Rebecca Katowa: “It is our sincere wish that we can continue contributing to national government imperatives which include the enhancement of economic activity in the country, increased foreign direct investment, rural development and increased socio-economic contributions from the private sector which benefit all Zambians.”

Following the recent approval of the project by the Zambia Sugar Board, the various civil and specialist equipment contracts will be awarded and full construction of the refinery and ancillary operations, which will be integrated into the existing factory environments, will commence in the first half of this year. It is envisaged that after the start-up of the Nakambala factory in April 2016, the refinery will come on stream in May 2016.

Zambia Sugar is listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange and is majority-owned by the Illovo Sugar group, listed on the JSE Limited in South Africa, which employs more than 30 000 people across six southern African countries and is Africa’s biggest sugar producer.

For the full press release and to visit Illovo's website, please click here >


Notes to Editors


Zambia Sugar is the largest sugar producer in the country and the second largest single sugar mill in Africa. Outside of the Illovo Group’s majority stake in the company, the balance of shares are held by local institutional investors and over 3 000 members of the public, including employees. The company employs over 6 000 people at peak and has an estate population exceeding 16 000. It also has an active social investment programme targeting health, education, sports and culture. Zambia Sugar offers a wide range of education, health and social amenities to its staff and the surrounding communities which include but, are not limited to, medical services, schools, sports and recreation at the Nakambala Estate. Corporate Social Responsibility to smallholder outgrowers, among other corporate social investments, is extended in a commercially sustainable way.

When attempting to tackle an issue as complex as obesity in the UK, we believe we all have an important role to play. We read the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer with great interest and agree that this is an issue that must be addressed.
 
Our research* for example shows that over half of UK adults (54%) don’t meet the basic physical activity guidelines recommended by the NHS. Coupled with this, consumers don’t keep track of their daily calorie intake.
 
The result is that many people are not managing to balance the fuel (calories) they consume, with the fuel (calories) they burn off. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles and an over consumption of calories is causing a rise in obesity. 
 
Singling out sugar as a lead cause of this, therefore, is misleading and confusing for consumers – particularly when Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%** in total sugar consumption per capita in the UK over the past decade.
 
We are absolutely supportive though of reducing sugars as part of reformulation when it results in an overall reduction in calories. Taking or reducing sugars out of food can, in certain circumstances mean, however, that the calorie count goes up.
 
With regard to the CMO’s comments on sugar tax, we believe it’s important to note that there is no conclusive evidence that this would have the desired effect on consumer behaviour. Instead, we believe the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of what constitutes a healthy balanced diet.
 
As a responsible business, we are committed to providing accurate information based on the facts and science to help consumers make informed choices about the food and drink they consume.
 
Richard Pike
Managing Director, British Sugar

References

* Food Intake Survey, conducted by One Poll on behalf of AB Sugar in December 2013 with a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults

**Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
We welcome the World Health Organisation’s* acknowledgement that “energy balance is critical to maintaining a healthy body weight”** and its continued recommendation that intake of sugars not exceed 10% of total energy. We are supportive of measures that help people better manage their overall calorie intake and diet.  
 
We are concerned, however, that the WHO has suggested an ambition and conditional recommendation to reduce total daily energy intake of sugars to below 5%. While it acknowledges that there is uncertainty*** in support of this recommendation, and that substantial debate is needed, this proposal may mislead and confuse the public.
 
Sugar is just one source of calories, and reducing intake of it alone will not solve the obesity crisis, for which there is no quick fix. In fact, Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%**** in total sugar consumption per capita in the UK over the past decade.
 
The overwhelming body of scientific evidence is that it is the over consumption of total calories across all food groups and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles that is driving obesity rates.
 
It is important therefore to help educate everyone on the importance of balancing energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out, and to provide accurate information based on facts and science so that the public can make considered decisions about sugar and what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet.
 
Richard Pike
Managing Director, British Sugar
 
 
References
 
* Prepared by the World Health Organisation’s Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (Subgroup on Diet and Health)
 
** Draft Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children, World Health Organisation (05/03/14) http://www.who.int/nutrition/sugars_public_consultation/en/
 
*** Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children (05/03/14), Page 3, World Health Organisation 
 
***** Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
AB Sugar is supportive of measures that help people better manage their diet and address some of the key health concerns in the UK such as obesity.
 
However, obesity is a complex issue and a result of many different lifestyle factors - there is no silver bullet to solving this problem.
 
There is no conclusive evidence that a sugar tax would have the desired effect on consumer behaviour and lead people to make the right decisions about their health and diet.
 
In fact, Government figures show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%* in total sugar consumption in the UK over the last decade. 
 
We believe instead that the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet by providing them with accurate information based on facts and science.
 
Richard Pike
Managing Director, British Sugar
 
References

 *Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
 
 
We are currently reviewing the draft guideline on sugars intake published today by the World Health Organisation* and will be providing comment on the findings and draft recommendation in due course.
 
Over the past few months we have seen sugar singled out as a lead cause of obesity in the UK. There is no silver bullet to solving the obesity crisis which is the result of a complex range of factors. We welcome and are supportive of measures that help people better manage their calorie intake, diet and health.
 
The overwhelming body of scientific evidence, however, points to a cause of over-consumption of total calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles as the lead cause of obesity. This is causing an imbalance between energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out.
 
Government Family Food statistics here in the UK show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%** in total sugar consumption over the last decade. We believe the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of the food and drink they consume.


References
 
* Prepared by the World Health Organisation’s Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (Subgroup on Diet and Health)
**Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics

 

Please find below Mark Carr’s Saturday Essay Comment featured within The Grocer on Saturday 25 January, which seeks to place the recent comments around obesity in context.

In the last fortnight, sugar has been singled out as a lead cause of the obesity epidemic in the UK. Some have even gone as far as to brand it the ’new tobacco’. Fuelled by comments made by members of the new campaign group, Action on Sugar, these views are misleading and unhelpful. Even worse, they are likely to confuse consumers who are already unsure about what to eat as part of healthy balanced diet.
 
There is no silver bullet to solving the obesity crisis in the UK, and it is irresponsible if we encourage consumers to think that there is. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence is that it is the over-consumption of calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles which are causing the imbalance between energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out - the key factor driving rising obesity rates.
 
Central to Action on Sugar’s campaign is their call for a 20-30 per cent reduction in sugar added to food – a move they say will take 100 calories a day out of a typical diet. They claim this is enough to halt or reverse rising levels of obesity. However, the increase in the incidence of obesity in the UK is a result of a range of factors that are more complex than this. For example, Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%* in total sugars consumption in the UK over the past decade, so the suggestion that an increase in obesity results only from increased sugar consumption is not supported by current statistics. 
 
The Campaign’s focus on sugar and calories may also lead people to wrongly assume that sugar is higher in calories than other food groups. Sugar has no more calories than other key food groups. It has four calories per gram, which is the same as protein and starch, and lower than alcohol (seven calories) and fat (nine calories). Oversimplifying the debate to one of reducing sugar intake runs the risk of grossly misleading consumers.
 
AB Sugar is not alone in its concern about claims made by Action on Sugar. Diabetes UK, noted ‘it is important to be clear that we want to reduce sugar consumption because having too much can easily lead to weight gain, as is true with foods high in fat. So reducing the amount of sugar in our diets is not all that we need to do’.  



The British Nutrition Foundation noted, ‘Despite the widespread recognition that many people in the UK need to cut down intake of added sugar …, the recent media headlines describing sugar as a leading cause of obesity and diabetes and comparing it with tobacco are misleading.’  It also said, ‘An excess of total calories (from any food or drink source), which is not balanced with sufficient physical activity, can lead to weight gain.’



Waging war on one food group is clearly not the answer. We believe that the public would benefit from a better overall understanding about the food they put in their bodies. Our own research** suggests that there is still a huge amount of confusion. For example, two fifths of people rarely or never check the food label before buying a product and 67% do not track their daily calorie intake.

Let’s be clear, our task as an industry is to support and facilitate constructive debate on diet and lifestyle. AB Sugar is committed to playing its part in this, and is supportive of measures that help people better manage their calorie intake and diet. However, it is crucial that the discussion around how to combat obesity is founded on facts, scientific evidence and sensible dialogue.

We want consumers to be able to make up their own minds about sugar and how it can be consumed as part of healthy diet and active lifestyle by providing them with the facts and science.  For example correcting misconceptions that sugars are ‘hidden’ in products when, in reality, all sugars are declared on a product’s nutritional label. We want a sense of balance to be restored to the obesity debate.



We acknowledge there is no quick fix. Obesity is a complex problem that requires an integrated solution – one that we are keen to play a role in.
 
The online version of the Saturday Essay can be viewed here>


References

*Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA)
view site here>
**Food Intake Survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of AB Sugar in December 2013, with a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults.


For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.



The Dispatches programme exploring the role of sugar in the diet (aired on 20 January) missed a simple fact: if you consume too many calories by eating too much of any type of food, you will put on weight.

The overwhelming body of scientific evidence is that it is the over-consumption of calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles which are causing the imbalance between energy in and energy out - the key factor driving rising obesity rates which in turn are contributing to increased incidence in Type 2 Diabetes.

Indeed, Diabetes UK, has noted: ‘it is important to be clear that we want to reduce sugar consumption because having too much can easily lead to weight gain, as is true with foods high in fat. So reducing the amount of sugar in our diets is not all that we need to do’. 

Government Family Food statistics also show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%* per capita in total sugars consumption in the UK over the past decade, so the suggestion that an increase in obesity results only from increased sugar consumption is not supported by current statistics. 
 
In addition, the suggestion that sugars are ‘hidden’ in food and drink is incorrect and mis-leading, as all sugars are declared on a product’s nutritional label.  



We want consumers to be able to make up their own minds about sugar and how it can be consumed as part of healthy diet and active lifestyle by providing them with the facts and science.
 
For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.


References
*Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA)
visit site >
 








As a responsible business and as part of the food and drink industry, we are supportive of measures that help people make informed choices about their calorie intake and diet.

We want to play our part in helping people adopt a diet commensurate with the lifestyle they lead so as to avoid health problems, however, to single out one ingredient for sole blame on this issue is misleading and unhelpful for consumers. It oversimplifies the issue.

Obesity is caused by people consuming excess calories through the food and drink they consume. The increased incidence of obesity in the UK is a result of a complex range of factors. We do of course acknowledge that sugar consumption is frequently cited as a factor in these public health challenges. However, the Government Family Food statistics have in fact shown a reduction of almost 12%1 in total sugars over the last decade.

This is clearly a complex problem that requires a complex solution – one that we are keen to play a role in.

For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.
 
 
References

1 Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affair, National Statistics, Family Food 2012.  Visit site >