CIUS European sugar users group expresses shock at calls for block on Ukrainian supplies

The Committee of European Sugar Users (Cius), has stated its shock on call for blocking imports of sugar from Ukraine, as the EU faces continued shortage of supplies for a number of sectors, including within confectionery, reports Neill Barston.

As reported by the Financial Times, Polish farmers earlier this month resumed a blockade of agricultural produce entering its borders under an agreement struck in 2022, that permitted Ukraine to supply Europe in the wake of the invasion of Russia.

However, with the war showing no sign of coming to a conclusion, Poland’s European Commission agricultural representative, Janusz Wojciechowski, has led calls for imports from Ukraine to be strictly controlled again, despite an urgent need for sugar across the continent, with prices continuing to surge.

Latest industry evaluation has asserted that there is a supply gap of between 2-3.5 million tonnes per year, which has negatively impacted a wide range of industries, including confectionery.

This has taken its toll on a retail level, with the price of finished products increasing by up to 20% within the past year, which has been fuelled by an underlying price rises in existing stocks of sugar, which rose by a total of 80% during 2022 and 2023, drawing considerable concern from trade organisations across the confectionery sector, including Germany’s BDSI.

According to Cius, in addition to helping the Ukrainian economy, the freeing up of the key ingredient’s imports from Ukraine has been vital for the European food industry’s which has been under notable pressure in facing considerable supply chain challenges. As the organisation, which represents 15,000 sugar using companies (with around 700,000 employees in total), there were a number of factors influencing the present shortage.

This includes insufficient planting of sugar beet in the EU and excessive restrictions on imports that make it impossible to fill the gap in an economically viable manner.

Significantly, Cius stated that shortages have undermined the growth of the EU’s high value add agri-food exports, and broader economies in the region. Even with the dramatic increase of imports of sugar from Ukraine since the EU lifted restrictions, there is still a shortage of supply in the EU of this vital raw material for strong export industries such as confectionery and fine bakery wares.

As the organisation noted, there have been ongoing concerns expressed by the impact on sectors including confectionery – which it noted has particularly high value for European exports, with economic worth that is considerably more than the sugar trade in itself. However, it noted that the segment could only continue to flourish to its full potential with the provision of a full level of sugar supplies.

Cius stated: “We need more sugar from Ukraine and Europe and other sustainable sources, – not less. The food industry needs certainty that Ukraine will remain open as a source of supply long term, as alternative sources are so limited. This will help to reduce the EU sugar deficit and to provide the EU food industry with capacity and confidence to increase high value add exports, thus contributing to EU economic growth in addition to providing vital economic help to a country that deserves all the support Europe can provide.”

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