Given recent turbulence, it could be said that it’s rather timely to have conducted a survey to understand what causes people pain with the annual sugar beet campaign.

On the contrary, the exercise actually started back in spring 2022 when British Sugar commissioned a stakeholder survey.

Around 575 growers took part with 20 deep-dive calls, hundreds of discussions with harvesters and hauliers, and eight partnership workshops taking place.

British Sugar’s Harry Mitchell says the results were a tough read and showed that things had to change. “Outside of the 25% of growers on the Beet Delivery Service, in the vast majority of cases, there’s no plan or schedule agreed between growers and hauliers for when their crop will be delivered.

“Only 12% of growers were either satisfied or very satisfied with the campaign and a third were dissatisfied with the coordination of it, which includes planning, communication and visibility,” he explains.

Field-to-Factory Partnership

Harry says it was agreed that British Sugar had to find a better way forward and therefore a commitment was made to ensuring it improved how it worked with growers and industry partners. The result – the Field-to-Factory Partnership.

“The Partnership is just that – a partnership of growers, harvesters, hauliers, and the processor, who work together to find solutions to the things that cause upset with campaign.

“This is a new approach by British Sugar, to ensure it listens and works with others to find solutions and thereby give growers and industry partners a new platform to get involved, pilot new, innovate ways of working while learning and working together,” says Harry.

He stresses that the Partnership is also a way to ensure that British Sugar doesn’t impose and push new ways of working onto growers and industry partners, instead, it’s about finding solutions together.

Four core challenges

The survey revealed four core challenges – 1) poor communication between British Sugar and stakeholders, 2) poor planning and coordination of the campaign, 3) a requirement for growers and industry partners to have data in one place so they’re informed and can make timely decisions and 4) a lack of trust in British Sugar.

Harry says the Partnership’s vision is to improve the campaign for everyone with the main goal of providing clear planning so everyone can benefit from a reliable and efficient supply chain that instils long-term confidence.

“Importantly, growers, harvesters, hauliers and the processor are working together to find solutions. The workstreams that have been co-created and designed include the Adaptable Campaign Plan, with other projects in motion including Harvester Evaluation and Industry Engagement,” he concludes.

A deep-dive into the Adaptable Campaign Plan and more information about the Field-to-Factory Partnership will be published in the February issue of CPM.