in Escaudoeuvres, “it will leave families without work”

Guillaume Dominguez

This Wednesday, the sugar producer Tereos announced the closure of two sites in France. Among them, the last sugar factory, located in Escaudoeuvres, in the North. A shock for the inhabitants of the town, many of whom worked in this factory, sometimes for several generations. Europe 1 went to meet them.

Tereos, the world’s number two group in sugar production and owner of the Béghin-Say brand, announced on Wednesday the closure of two sites in France. 149 jobs are threatened, victims of the sugar beet crisis. The last candy from the North makes the list. For more than a century, the factory has sustained the commune of Escaudoeuvres. Europe 1 went there.

“We are the only site that makes high-end sugar”

In the parking lot in front of the factory, the workers set fire to a huge pile of tires. It was when he saw the thick black smoke that Marc realized that something was wrong. “I went to see and I asked what was going on. I was told: social plan”, he says, confused. It’s the cold shower for this electrician in service in the factory for 43 years. “I didn’t believe it because my father, my grandfather, my uncles and I worked there all our lives. This factory was the first of the Béghin-Say group. We are the only site that made with top-of-the-line sugar,” says Marc.

The management justified the closure of the site by the drop in beet production linked to the new regulations on neonicotinoids. In Escaudoeuvres, the whole village was built around the sugar refinery. For Sandrine, who has always lived here, the identity of the village is in danger of changing. “Tereos is known by everyone, it’s sugar, it’s something we use every day. So if it’s gone, it’s going to leave families without work. And we know that there were more than 150 people in the company,” she laments.

A crushing blow for an entire municipality which symbolically falls a few days away from the 150ᵉ anniversary of the factory.