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The House of Lords Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy EU Sub-Committee has said the EU must do more to get UK consumers a better deal on sugar
The committee, which released a follow-up report to an inquiry carried out in 2005, wants more transparency and clarity in sugar pricing, and has called for an OFT investigation ahead of the sugar reform talks happening in the autumn.
Lord Carter of Coles, chair of the committee, said, “This is a critical time for the EU sugar regime. With the EU about to formulate its policy for the next 20 years, the decisions it makes must be right, both for sugar growers, producers and, ultimately, for consumers.
“Certainly, it is the consumer for whom we have the greatest concern. After the last set of reforms took place, the price of sugar in the EU decreased. However, this was just for the growers and the producers – the cost to the consumer actually increased, meaning they did not reap the benefits of the decrease in sugar prices.
“The sugar market has very few significant operators. For consumers primarily, but for the industry too, the pricing process needs clarity and transparency. We believe that an investigation by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading would be an excellent way of providing independent advice to the commission on how the process impacts on UK consumers. We allege no collusion, but we think an investigation would assist all concerned in lifting the shroud of mystery that hangs over the industry.
“We hope that the European Parliament will consider our recommendations during the debates on sugar reforms this autumn. If not, we fear that consumers will be the ones left paying the heaviest price for sugar – and that certainly isn’t a sweet deal for them,” he added.