Tate & Lyle

Commercial partners / suppliers

Good, long-term relationships with our partners and suppliers are very important at Tate & Lyle. We have a consistent, Group-wide approach, based on our Code of Conduct, which covers purchasing strategies at global, regional and local levels. Supply chain ethics are important to us, and we are committed to sharing best practice and improving standards amongst suppliers.

Raw material suppliers

Growers and producers of corn and sugar cane, the raw materials we use to make our products, are our biggest suppliers, and we have developed long-standing and mutually beneficial relationships with them over many years. We apply rigorous standards to our raw materials suppliers, and survey many of them on their ethical commitment. We work closely with them to ensure compliance with our needs, implementing traceability and ensuring that our customers’ requirements are fully met.

Sugar cane

Cane sugar suppliers are key to the supply chains for our EU sugar refineries. These are typically countries that have preferential access to the EU sugar market, implemented through the EU Sugar Regime. These suppliers include those that we have long-standing relationships with, such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, as well as new suppliers resulting from recent changes to EU legislation, such as in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

In Vietnam, our suppliers are the sugar cane growers themselves. Meanwhile, in our molasses business our suppliers can be the same businesses that supply our sugar refineries, or suppliers from other parts of the world.

Auditing the supply chain

Our auditing programme, introduced in 2007, is designed to evaluate the social, ethical and environmental performance of our suppliers and to identify any shortcomings. Where these are found, we work with that supplier to encourage the necessary improvement. We do not purchase our raw sugar from farmers or sugar mills, but from contracting parties which are government organisations, co-operatives etc. Auditing the contract party alone will not necessarily determine or improve conditions in the mills supplying sugar for our refining operations, or of the farmers themselves. We therefore audit our second tier suppliers including with some random sampling of farmers.

To ensure transparency, our audit programme is run by Cert ID, an internationally recognised European auditing body, which assesses our suppliers against a range of social, ethical and sustainable criteria. During 2009 we will continue to use the process to address any outstanding issues that arise from the audits, and ensure that the process continues to help our suppliers improve. Our aim is to have audited all suppliers at least once by the end of 2010.


Tate & Lyle’s ongoing commitment to Fairtrade saw small-scale farmers in Belize receive nearly US$4 million in Fairtrade premiums in 2008. The investment of this premium has been divided between production, education and social programmes that have had a direct benefit to the 6,000 producers and their families. Looking forward, there are plans to invest in longer-term projects to develop the quality of the sugar cane as well as the quantity of cane produced per acre.

Better Sugarcane Initiative

Tate & Lyle continues to work with Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), growers, unions, biofuels companies, food manufacturers and other end users to improve the social impact of sugar cane worldwide through the Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI). Tate & Lyle chaired the BSI in 2008, which is developing a practical standard that will make a real global contribution towards reducing the environmental impact of sugar cane production, the social aspects associated with it and the products – mainly ethanol and sugar – derived from it.


We purchase around 2% of the US corn crop each year. The long-term relationships we have built up over the years with the family-owned grain businesses, local farmers and other commercial partners who provide us with corn ensure we have the supplies we need for our corn wet mills. See the 'Sustainable Sourcing 'section for more details.

Sustainable procurement

Aside from our raw material suppliers, we continue to review procurement to look at how we can encompass sustainability more fully in our strategies.


We aim to continue to improve standards in our supply chain through developing our work on supply chain ethics, risk management and sustainable procurement, and by working increasingly closely with suppliers to share best practice on a range of issues. We will continue to develop our supplier audit programme to ensure consistently high standards across the Group.

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Commercial partners and suppliers