Spain’s Azucarera Ebro, a unit of food giant Ebro Puleva, is to shut its 22,000 tonne/year sugar factory in Ciudad Real, central Spain, after sugar cane growers decided to scrape this year’s harvest, a company spokeswoman confirmed to just-food yesterday (20 February).

The company, which is bracing for the possibility of more factory closures, hopes to dismiss the plant’s 50 workers as “non-traumatically” as possible. Negotiations with trades unions will begin in coming hours, the spokeswoman said.

Ebro operates seven sugar mills in Spain: four in the Castille-La Mancha region and three in Andalucia, churning out over 700,000 tonne/year of sugar. The company is waiting for the European Union (EU)’s final sugar reform bill, expected to come out today, before deciding the future of its sugar production in Spain, the spokeswoman said.
“We depend on growers and we want to continue this activity [in Spain]. Once the definitive reform is out we will begin a dialogue with all the parties involved,” she said.

Company executives have recently said the company will look for all possible alternatives to avoid factory closings, including ventures in biofuels, which use sugar cane as a raw material. The company has reportedly closed four factories since 2000.