Royal Irish Beet-Root Sugar Factory in Mountmellick was founded in 1851 but failed after 10 years. It couldn’t replace the substantial imports that were already coming into Ireland. However, the establishment of the Irish Sugar Manufacturing Company in Carlow in 1926 was the beginning of an 80 year industry.
In 2006 the Irish sugar industry came to an end after the EU made decisions to end sugar production in the least efficient countries. The closure of the sugar factory in Carlow resulted in a loss of 320 jobs in the area.
Sugar prices soared after the reforms and there have been growing calls for Ireland to re-enter the sector. A report by the European Court of Auditors in 2010 found the closure of the factory had been needless because the business was profitable at the time.
Beet Ireland are now working to re-introduce the industry into Ireland.