The IIRB has its beginnings at the CIBE Congress (International Confederation of European Beet Growers) in Prague in 1931. It was founded as an international organisation to establish close collaboration between the different European specialists in beet growing techniques upon the initiative of the Director of the Society of the Sugar Refineries of Tienen (Belgium), M. Berger, and the Director of the Dutch Beet Institute, Professor van Ginneken. The foundation of the IIRB was set up on 6th October 1931 by representatives of seven countries: Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Czechoslovakia.

The first IIRB Congress was held in Brussels in January 1932. After the end of World War II, IIRB activities continued with a congress in Brussels in February 1947. In the same year, the Administrative Council was established.

In 1952, the IIRB was legally constituted as a non-profit organisation with its official seat in Brussels. English, French and German were the official languages of IIRB. The office moved to Göttingen in 2006, while the IIRB's seat remained at Brussels.

In 2016, the General Assembly of the IIRB decided that the working language will be English in future.