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First test campaign with organic beet in Nykobing and Schladen

For the first time, the Schladen and Nykobing sites processed organic beet before the start of the regular campaign. The short campaign was planned as a test run under real conditions – not least because the volume of beet was small.

Next year the volumes are expected to be larger and so the organic beet campaign will last longer. “We are starting at the right time. The market is calling for organic sugar from regionally grown beet – and we are now ready to really get started next year,” says Dr Piotr Wawro, Head of Technology & Innovation and project manager of the organic beet campaign at the two plants. Dr Wawro also has an eye on pellets, which are in great demand as animal feed for organic livestock farms, as the overall market for organic products continues to grow, and with it demand for these two products. This is why Nordzucker already did the groundwork for organic sugar from regionally farmed beet back in 2016.

For the organic growers, this first year was very challenging: weeds profited from a cold and damp spring – a lot more work was required on the fields to keep them in check. This battle is reflected in the yields of organic beet, which range widely from very good to below average.

One good thing, according to Dr Piotr Wawro, is that everyone involved in the growing and production processes has learned a lot and gained experience for next year: “Our two-country strategy has been a success. There are growers in both countries who are focusing on organic beet. In addition, we mastered the audits and their different procedures in each country. Now we can do it, and that will help us with the organic campaign in future.” There were also a couple of surprises for the project manager: “The purity and quality of the juice that is used to produce organic sugar were very high.” This is important for further processing. He is in no doubt: “It all went much better than we thought it would at first.” And adds: “We were able to build on a highly motivated and extremely dedicated team on the ground, which really picked up the ball and ran with it – from the detailed planning through to certification. That was amazing!”

Looking ahead to 2018, Dr Wawro still has one wish: “We want to run a much longer organic beet campaign. That only works with more beet.” That too is already well under way. Nordzucker has already sent the new contracts for 2018 out to the farmers. That means the growers can plan their volumes much earlier than last year.