Ireland still does not provide the environment for a commercially competitive sugar industry, according Greencore's chief executive Patrick Coveney.

Despite the recent developments at BEET Ireland and the group's efforts to raise funds from growers to initiate a co-op, Coveney's views have not changed since he revealed his skepticism at an Irish Farmers Journal conference two years ago.

Asked if the project could succeed on RTÉ Radio 1's Countrywide show on Saturday, he said: "I don’t think so."

I just don’t see it as commercially viable

While he appreciated the continuing role of sugar beet as a rotation crop, Coveney added: "I would be delighted, and we’d help if we could, in terms of any of the historic expertise or locations that we have, but I just don’t see it as commercially viable."

He said that it was a "real pity" that sugar beet production ended in Ireland. The chief financial officer of Greencore at the time of the company's decision to stop processing in the wake of the EU's 2006 sugar quota reform said: "The aim of that regime was to eliminate sugar production in the more expensive growing and sub-scale processing countries, and that’s what happened."

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