Tate & Lyle, Britain’s 150-year-old sugar and syrup producer, has sold its sugar and refining businesses to the US American Sugar Refining company (ASR). This is the latest in a series of sales as the company dispenses with what it regards as less profitable investments, subsidiaries, properties and assets.
The East London (Silvertown) sugar cane refinery, established in 1878 and the largest in the world, remains for the time being, 550 workers having transferred to the ASR Company.
Tate & Lyle was one of the few remaining industrial users left on the Thames. It sold its Greenwich refinery to the French company Syral in 2007, which closed it in 2009 with the loss of 150 jobs. The Silvertown refinery, similar plant in Portugal and Vietnam, the Tate & Lyle brand name and Golden Syrup factory are all part of the sale.
The sale is likely to end 150 years of British-owned production in Britain whose profits in previous days paid for, built and filled the Tate Gallery and related art galleries.
The sugar cane refinery business in Europe has seen prices cut by the European Commission by 36 per cent in the past four years. How long the Silvertown refinery can survive with its new US owners and as part of London’s historic riverside is a concern for all.