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‘Sweets for my sweet’ costly for Bulgarian confectioners

By Ben Bouckley , 12-Sep-2011

EU-wide sugar shortages have led to particular problems for confectioners in Bulgaria, according to recent comments from a trade body in that country.

Mariana Kukusheva, who chairs the Federation of Bread Bakers and Confectioners in Bulgaria said that, if sugar prices kept rising, small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country could face bankruptcy.

Her comments, to the Sofia-based Focus News Agency follow calls last week from the European Sugar Refiners’ Association (ESRA) to abolish CXL duty of $98/tonne on sugar imports from countries such as Brazil and Australia.

Bulgarian demand stalls

An EU source told our sister site FoodNavigator.com last week that Brussels was also considering scrapping sugar quotas from 2016 to ease high EU prices and supply shortages.

And ESRA argued that CXL duty abolition would ensure “fair access to raw materials” for the 19 sugar refiners it represents, and would benefit food producers.

Kukusheva, who was unavailable for comment this morning, is quoted as saying that Bulgarian demand for confectionery and paste products had fallen 30% as prices rose.

She added that Bulgarian sugar prices were some of the highest in Europe, since Bulgarian consumers preferred home-grown sugar.

With sugar scarce and prices rising on a daily basis, Kuksheva said that around 1,000 firms active in confectionery and bakery were struggling to survive, since they were unable to pass on price increases to customers at the same rate.

EU supply scarcity

Firms were resorting to alternative sweetening methods, Kukusheva said, while higher energy prices – up around 35% in Bulgaria after price rises at the start of July – were also increasing production costs.

CAOBISCO represents around 2,000 firms active in chocolate, biscuits and confectionery throughout the EU.

Asked whether the body supported ESRA call for CXL duty of $98/tonne to be scrapped, and what steps it was taking to combat high sugar prices, Muriel Korter, economic affairs director told ConfectioneryNews.com that the body wouldn’t comment on price levels.

"However, for two years now we have experienced supply scarcity in Europe which led the Commission to take exceptional measures on the market,” Korter said.

She added that CAOBISCO expected to finalise a release regarding the upcoming year this afternoon.

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