UK Beet Sugar Industry - a history
100 years of beet sugar industry logo
In 2012 the industry celebrated 100 years and we were proud to be part of this great British success story.

The beet sugar industry as we know it began in the early 1900s and the first factory, built in 1912, was our very own Cantley factory in Norfolk. That first harvest and factory ‘campaign’ began a remarkable partnership between agriculture and industry that has endured throughout the 20th century. 

agriculture over the years

During the 1920s, a further 17 factories were erected and until the 1930s, the crop was processed by 13 autonomous companies in 18 factories throughout the country.

In 1936, those factories were amalgamated by the Sugar Industry (Reorganisation) Act to form one organisation - the British Sugar Corporation – to manage the entire domestic crop; a development which marked a significant stage in the process of the UK beet sugar industry.

In 1972, ‘Silver Spoon’ was launched as the retail brand name of British Sugar selling caster, cubed and icing sugar, which you may have seen on your local supermarket shelf.

The Government remained a shareholder until 1981 when it sold its share. In 1982 the word ‘corporation’ was taken from the company name and the British Sugar Corporation became a Public Limited Company, trading as British Sugar. 

Associated British Foods bought British Sugar in 1991 and it still the parent company today.

Further developments included; the installation of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants in all of our factories, producing high pressure steam to drive turbines generating 95% of our factories needs; and the UK’s first Bioethanol refinery at Wissington, all of which have further enhanced British Sugar in becoming the efficient and sustainable business we know today.

developments - cornerways nursery and CHP plant