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The Sugar Industry Programme

1 August 2023

Now in its twelfth year, the Sugar Industry Programme will shortly be launching its 2023/24 scheme. Run jointly by British Sugar and NFU Sugar, the programme provides an opportunity for sugar beet growers and industry professionals alike to learn more about the wider homegrown sugar industry and take part in training and development. 

In advance of applications opening for this year, we spoke to two alumni of the programme about their experiences and how it has helped them in their careers so far.

Ed Dale, a Farm Manager in East Anglia, who participated in the 2019/20 Programme, told us,

“The SIP is something I would recommend to anyone who has an association with the sugar industry. Whether you’ve grown up alongside the industry or you’re a relative newbie, the depth and breadth of the programme offers fresh insights at all levels.

“The programme provides a range of different experiences that cover not only the obvious sectors of the industry, such a visit to one of British Sugar’s factories and a visit to the British Beet Research Organisation, but it also encompasses some of the lesser known work that goes on such as the work of the NFU Sugar Board.

“A particular highlight of the SIP was our visit to Belgium. There we visited the research facility of sugar beet seed producer SESVanderHave and Raffinerie Tirlemontoise, a sugar beet refinery on the outskirts of Tienen. It was interesting to learn about how sugar beet is thought of in Belgium, as well as the challenges and concerns experienced by the Belgian beet sugar industry, and they had and how they were planning to tackle them.

“Another benefit of the SIP is it puts you in contact with other people who work within different sectors of the industry. The programme is open to delegates from across the industry, whether that be growers, agronomists, land agents, British Sugar employees or seed processors - all are welcome to apply and in turn that provides a great networking opportunity.”

Ellen Raynor, Beet Operations Manager in British Sugar’s Beet Delivery Service and 2021/22 SIP delegate, said,

“The Sugar Industry Programme (SIP) was an invaluable experience for me. Having the chance to visit some of the biggest stakeholders in the sugar beet supply chain was such a great learning opportunity. In particular, the visit to Parliament really stood out. It was fascinating to understand how this industry fits into the bigger picture.

“I have used the insight and skills I gained on SIP frequently in my career since, all the way from knowledge of the supply chain and the finer details of growing the crop, to universal skills such as professional networking and improved communication.

“I’d recommend SIP to anyone who is considering it, it is a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge on the sugar beet industry and make valuable friendships with other like-minded individuals.”

Applications for the 2023/24 Sugar Industry Programme will be opening on 7th August. If you would like to take part, keep an eye on the British Sugar and NFU Sugar websites and social media for details on how to apply.