Episode 13: 2020 – Sugar in hindsight

2020: Sugar in hindsight

It may have seemed like a sweet deal, but the history of Irish sugar leaves a bitter taste in the mouth in hindsight….

The closure of the Irish sugar industry in 2005 was a staggering blow to Irish food security. From being self-sufficient in sugar and molasses to importing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of these commodities per year, often from countries whose cheap production relies on horrendous working conditions on sugar cane plantations, it’s difficult to look back on the demolition of the industry as anything other than a retrograde step. 

The salutary tale of the demolition of Ireland’s indigenous sugar industry, whose closure impacted 3,700 beet farmers and thousands of other jobs, in light of recent concerns for food security raised by Brexit and the Covid Crisis, still has plenty to teach us. 

From compensation packages for Irish farmers to a particularly sweet deal for Greencore, the food company that shut up shop under pressure from an EU sugar reform scheme, Ellie is joined by Allan Navratil, a farmer whose family history is steeped in the story of Irish sugar, for a 2020 look at Ireland’s lost sugar industry. 

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