Beet Ireland, an orgainsation who sought to bring back to production of beet in the country, has abandoned plans to do so.
It had been mooted in January that the organisation were a step closer to confirming plans to revive the industry.
However, in a statement issued to Agriland, Beet Ireland confirmed it has decided to “postpone any further involvement in this project”.
They said: “It has always been our firmly-held view that the return of the sugar beet industry must be grower-led, in order to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated into the future.
“Sugar beet growing was an integral part of tillage farming life, particularly in the south and south-east of the country – going right back to the 1920s. Sugar beet growers enjoyed excellent crop yields and returns for many years; it served as an important break crop.
“We view this industry as being the missing pillar in the Irish agricultural industry.
“Sugar has many other uses in today’s global economy, other than as a food product. These uses will continue to be successfully exploited by the main sugar producers around the world for many years to come.
“It is clear from our engagement process in recent months that there remains a strong desire to re-establish a sugar beet processing industry in Ireland. However, it is our view that the level of interest is not sufficiently strong enough to deliver a sugar industry of sufficient scale that is necessary to be competitive at a European or global level.”
The group concluded by saying: “Beet Ireland has been working tirelessly over the past eight years to re-establish a sugar industry on this island – an industry that we still believe can play a key role in import substitution, climate change and innovation in the agri-food sector.
“These priorities remain strategically important for the Irish economy and, in particular, for rural development in our country. We remain hopeful that this industry will be re-established at some point in the future.”
The Irish sugar industry as a whole has been at a standstill since the last of Ireland’s sugar factories, in Mallow in Co. Cork, closed in 2006.
Beet Ireland held a series of meetings around the country last year – each of which attracted big crowds.
The meetings were told that it will cost €300m to revive the Irish sugar industry, and that the commitment of farmers to grow beet will also be required.
The purpose of the meetings was to entice farmers to invest €1,000 each in a newly formed beet grower’s co-op.
The initiative is based on getting 1,000 growers to produce 1.4 million tonnes of beet per year, which equates to 50,000ac or an average of 50ac per grower.
Beet Ireland was established in 2011 to develop a new sugar and bioethanol industry in the southeast.
Following a feasibility study and the abolition of EU sugar quotas in 2017, the company purchased a site in Ballyburn, near Castledermot, Co Kildare.