Make the most of these beets: increasing diversity and building resilience in the sugar industry
Wissington is a beet sugar plant established in 1925, as part of British Sugar.
The plant supplies 420,000 tonnes of sugar a year in various formats, extracting it from the sugar beet grown around the East of England. However, for those who have visited, describing Wissington simply as a 'sugar factory' immediately feels like something of a misnomer. This is a story of diversification. The team at Wissington have continually evaluated their operation to valorise previously wasted energy and material flows.
The result is a factory that doesn't just produce sugar, but 12 different saleable products, from valuable chemicals to food for animals and humans. Some of the co-products are more obvious than others, and the approach shows an open-mindedness to new ideas. This practice is in place at most of British Sugar's plants, but is most advanced at Wissington. Here, the economies of scale are most pronounced, and offer the best example of how this type of expansion can improve the resilience of the business.
3.5 million tonnes of raw material enter Wissington each year, and just 100 tonnes leave for landfill - mainly canteen waste.