Tesco ditches UK sugar suppliers in favour of imported produce from thousands of miles away
Tesco has sparked outrage by pulling British sugar from its shelves - despite one of its biggest stores being right next to the factory that makes it.
The supermarket giant is now importing stock from as far as 5,000 miles away in countries such as Belize rather than using bags made from British beet.
Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar which makes Silver Spoon, said the retailer dropped the household brand because of “fractions of pennies” in the cost.
“We didn’t decide not to supply Tesco - Tesco decided not to stock us,” he said.
“The supermarkets in their marketing make a great play of supporting British food and locally grown produce.
“But all too often - when it comes to a contract stage and they get presented with a choice - for fractions of pennies they will go the other way.”
The factory which produces Silver Spoon’s product in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, is across the road from one of Tesco’s largest edge-of-town superstores.
Mr Kenward believes too few consumers realise sugar beet is grown in the UK - despite the Union Jack and Red Tractor logo on Silver Spoon packaging.
He added: “If Tesco wants to get the credit for being supportive of British farmers, then they should support British farmers.”
Cambridgeshire beet grower and newly elected NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said: “Our growers will be disappointed by Tesco’s decision.
“Beet growing makes an important contribution to rural economies and supports many jobs in rural areas.”
Mr Sly, who farms at Thorney, Cambridgeshire, added: “Many people in Yorkshire, the East Midlands and East Anglia will know that beet is grown locally, yet Tesco is denying them the opportunity to back British farming by switching to cane sugar.”
Some shoppers reacted angrily online.
Brian Colgate commented: “The bottom line is the only ‘ethics’ known to corporations. If the sugar cane sourced 5,000 Miles away can be brought to the U.K. and processed into sugar cheaper for them, that’s all Tesco will care about.”
Gary Skinner write: “if they want to support British Farmers, all they need do is support British Farmers. They have taken away our ability to choose which sugar to buy. But that’s ok, we can still choose at which supermarket to shop.”
Tesco said it had reviewed its ranges and suppliers for sugar.
Responding to queries from frustrated shoppers on Twitter, the retailer said: “We have decided to change our supplier from Silver Spoon to Tate & Lyle, but we still have Half Spoon and sweeteners available.”