The European Commission’s sugar management committee has approved nearly half of the extra sugar allowed to be released on the EU market this year – a total of 584,000 tonnes since January out of a 1.2m tonnes agreed in November.
The committee approved the release of an additional 127,000 tonnes of raw sugar on February 28, at a minimum duty of €141 per tonne and 95,293 tonnes of white sugar at a minimum duty of €161 per tonne. The committee also voted to release 125,000 tonnes of out of quota sugar at a minimum duty of €172 per tonne.
Two more tenders are forecast for the year, on May 15 and June 12.
EU sugar quotas have been causing headaches for the food and beverage industry, and a coalition of 27 industry organisations came together last week to sign a letter urging European leaders to end the quotas by 2015 – a move that has been backed by the European Commission. Sugar users claim that the quotas keep sugar prices artificially high – at about twice the world price.
“This puts EU food and drink producers - Europe’s largest manufacturing sector, more than 90% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises - at a competitive disadvantage in price sensitive global markets,” said the European Sugar Users Association (CIUS).
A European parliamentary committee meanwhile has sided with sugar growers, who have argued that sugar quotas should be extended to 2020.
Abolishing the quotas in 2015 was proposed in the European Commission’s CAP reform package.
The issue is set for a final plenary committee vote next week.