Getting to Know Ragus – Our Policies and Procedures!

Oct 15 2018

Ragus recently celebrated its 90th Birthday, a major achievement for a family run British company which opened in 1928. Since its beginnings Ragus has gone from strength to strength and we now run a full-service global operation. Our multi-million-pound state-of-the-art factory supplies hundreds of tonnes of pure sugar products to customers all over the world every day.

Part of our success is that Ragus operates strict regulation policies and procedures in terms of quality control, safety and workforce etiquette, to ensure that our various departments work together effectively and efficiently to maximise our output, thus ensuring we meet our customers’ specifications; all our pure sugar products are manufactured to the highest quality.

Meet Ibrahim, Ragus’ Quality Control Manager, who has been with the company for just over a year. Ibrahim has worked in the food and drink industry for over 20 years, so his wealth of knowledge and experience is a great asset to Ragus.

What are your responsibilities as a Quality Control Manager?

“Everything!!! As a Quality Control Manager, I am in charge of product quality, hygiene, food safety, audits, certification, goods in and out, the laboratory, software managing and raw materials.”

You mentioned being in charge of the laboratory. Why does Ragus need a laboratory?

“Our lab tests incoming raw materials as well as every batch and every product produced in the factory for technical analysis, taste, texture and appearance; our products are produced consistently to meet our customers’ bespoke requirements and I am responsible for overseeing the laboratory; I have to make sure this process runs smoothly and effectively. We also keep samples for a minimum of eighteen months for full traceability, so they have to be stored correctly and in specific batch orders.”

Raw cane sugar manufactured by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

 

Ragus’ facility, is one of the world’s most advanced sugar manufacturing sites producing hundreds of tonnes of sugars and syrups each day, what hygiene and food safety standards do you have to adhere by?

“Hygiene and food safety is a major part of my responsibilities, my teams in the factory report to me on a daily basis; our facilities must be kept to a high standard of cleanliness at all times. I have to inspect the factory daily and if any area has not, for any reason, been given the right attention to detail I make sure it is rectified immediately.

Much of our machinery has been custom-engineered, creating a site that adheres to all major European manufacturing standards (including BRC and ISO 9001); the International Organisation for Standardisation check everything in the factory regularly so I have to ensure everything is correct and in order at all times. Every year Ragus has to renew its certifications and be checked by the ISO; we have always passed their rigorous rules and regulations.”

You said you were in charge of audits. What does this entail?

“Yes, I am in charge of making sure we pass our own internal audits. I also visit suppliers, clients and other manufacturing plants we work with to run our own audits on them to ensure they meet all our requirements. We have recently (September 2018), had an audit from the BRC (British Retailer Consortium); this external board came into our factory and went through all of our processes to make sure our systems are adhering and working to the right BRC standards.

Other examples of an audits, that we must pass, are the Organic and Fairtrade standards; our organic products must be fully compliant with organic regulations, made with raw materials grown according to organic principles and free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours. There is also the Halal Food & Kosher Certification; our food products have to be safe for specific cultural and religious dietary requirements.”

Where does Ragus source its raw materials from?

“Ragus produces sugars and syrups using raw/white sugar cane from numerous countries in Americas (Cuba, Argentina, Guadeloupe, Guatemala), Africa (Malawi, Mauritius, Algeria, Mozambique) and Asia (India, Dubai) to name but a few. We also acquire our sugar beets from UK/EU sources. Our raw materials are soured from certified suppliers and we build long-term relationships with our suppliers.

Ragus is also able to offer both Organic and Fairtrade versions of the majority of its products and we can produce an organic alternative to just about any sugar formulation.”

Raw cane sugar manufactured by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

 

What is the process of taking raw materials and goods into the factory?

“Since being at Ragus I have created an incoming tanker checklist as any products entering our facilities have to undergo numerous safety checks; all raw materials have to be checked for pests, debris, odours etc. These checks include; weighing vehicles, checking paperwork is correct, making sure all security seals are intact, the tankers all have clean, capped hoses, and all deliveries have to have samples that are tested in our own laboratories, to name but a few! Safety and hygiene is our utmost importance as our products are for human consumption.”

In terms of delivering our products to customers, what is Ragus’ policy?

“Working in partnership with our suppliers and customers around the world, we deliver on time and in full. All our products are put through safety checks before they leave our facilities, we have specific machinery that check for any debris or foreign objects. All products are sealed, wrapped and stamped adequately and to specification.

We also use the latest logistics technologies to plan deliveries and achieve industry-leading delivery performance standards for on-time and in-full order fulfilment.”

Thanks Ibrahim…

A Ragus Sugars Fact:
Did you know that our factory operates around highly efficient workflows ensuring that we accurately coordinate the production, packing and shipment of hundreds of tonnes of pure sugars, syrups and special sugar formulations on a daily basis?

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UK SUGAR INDUSTRY CONCERNS OVER POST BREXIT

Oct 08 2018

In just over 6 months, the UK will cease being a member of the EU, which will completely change the way our country is run; all industries will be affected in one way or another, and one of the biggest shake-ups will be what happens to the UK’s food and drink sector.

At the moment 70% of UK food and non-alcoholic drink imports and exports are accounted for by the EU, and since we are currently part of the EU internal market, there is zero-tariff trade on goods, plus no border checks, custom duties or inspection; obviously this will change once we leave the EU.

Tractor-brexit-670

 

At Ragus, we are leading suppliers in the pure sugar market so what happens when we leave the EU is a subject that is high on our agenda and we want to support the UK sugar industry as much as we already do. According to Greg Hands, the Minister of State for Trade Policy, he insists that the UK is committed to keeping a mix of beet and cane sugar supplies once it leaves the EU, and that the Government will seek a procedure where cane and beet sugar will be ’able to compete on an equal basis’; he adds that the UK sugar beet sector is ’one of the most competitive in the world’.

As it currently stands, 60% of the sugar consumed in Britain comes from sugar beet grown and processed in the UK & EU. The remaining 40% of sugar, consumed in the UK, comes from raw sugar cane which is grown outside the EU in countries like Brazil, China and India, and is subject to import tariffs. However, the worry from domestic beet growers, once the UK leaves the EU, is that the UK Government could relax or even abandon its support for home grown beet sugar, favouring transactions between private parties which are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs and subsidies. Thus, allowing food and drink companies and manufacturers to approach their suppliers directly from overseas; if this happens then the percentage of the sugar consumed in Britain that comes from home grown sugar beet could decline.

Beet-brexit

 

Also, at the moment 2 million EU nationals work in the UK, that includes almost half a million in the food and drink supply chain; a third of whom work in manufacturing. Plus, over 50,000 are employed on a seasonal basis in farming and agriculture; thus, it isn’t just imports and exports that will be affected if the Government can’t put their visions into place, it’s our workforce too!

No one can yet predict the future, so it comes down to a case of having to wait and see what the future of UK sugar supply will be. Greg Hands offers the promise of continuing support for UK beet growers, but only time will tell!

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Quality and Food Safety – Policies and Practices at Ragus

Oct 02 2018

Ragus pure sugar manufacturing was founded by Charles Eastick in 1928. Since then the family run company has been passed from generation to generation to become the last independent sugar manufacturer in the UK – a great achievement. So, the Ragus company and its owners certainly know sugar product ingredients.

As does someone else… Ragus’ Quality & Technical Manager, Richard Livermore, who has been an employee with the company for over 17 years; he is someone who has become a part of the family and the furniture! Richard is on the road to retirement at the end of 2018, so it’s high time we introduced you to him before he leaves Ragus for a life of leisure.

What are your main responsibilities as a Quality & Technical Manager?

“I make sure that the factory runs smoothly and is compliant to BRC (The British Retail Consortium) and the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation). In the food industry you have to make sure that you follow all regulations and guidelines as we are supplying products for human consumption. These regulations cover our selection of ethically sourced raw materials to the controlled transformation into Ragus high quality functional ingredients.

Security at our production facility is also very important with the careful checking of safety of everyone visiting the site.”

Raw cane sugar manufactured by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

 

For those who don’t know, what exactly is quality control within Ragus?

“Quality control means controlling the raw material that comes into our production facility, the processes it goes through whilst in the factory, to the finished products that leave the facility for distribution; insuring all parameters are set and adhered to. Checks are made on the raw materials coming in, we have to look at the flowability of the sugar and the condition of the packaging. If we receive bulk products in shipping containers we have to investigate and run tests on the actual containers, especially if they come from places like South Africa or Mauritius where pests could be a threat.”

Do you ever have to reject containers?

“Occasionally yes, we do, if a container arrives damaged, then it could be open to contamination, so we wouldn’t accept it. Sometimes we could open up a container and there could be cockroaches inside which would then be taken off-site and fumigated. We cannot allow any raw materials into our plant which haven’t been subjected to our rigorous checks.”

You’ve been with Ragus for nearly 2 decades, how has the company evolved over time?

“I’ve worked in the sugar industry for over 40 years, the latter half of which has been with Ragus. The main changes I’ve seen is the implementation of our new factory. We moved into our new state-of-the-art production facility in 2013 and it’s been the greatest development for us as a company. Our production output has grown dramatically.

The original site was restrictive as the facilities were limited and as business grew over the years we too outgrew the grounds; capacity and production were difficult to manage on such a small site.”

So, by the sounds of it the new factory makes your job and life easier to manage?

“Yes, totally. I was able to help with the technical aspects of the new facility. Now, the factory just flows naturally; from raw material, to processing, to packaging, to goods out. The previous site was a bit of a squeeze because as the company began to grow, more equipment was needed, but we didn’t have the space for it, so it was placed anywhere that could house it, which often wasn’t in convenient places!”

How are products kept and stored in the factory?

“We have a goods in warehouse which is controlled by a team of people. Everything is kept in a racking system which is easy to store and visually satisfying. We continuously run stock checks, routinely clean the warehouse, do routine inhouse audits and adhere to all health and safety standards applicable to the food manufacturing industry. All our products have a shelf life on them too, but we have such a large turnover of products nothing is kept in our warehouse for too long.”

As Ragus has expanded in terms of facilities, how has this impacted on product development?

“Moving to our new facility has enabled us to increase our production and output. At the old factory the big vessels we used to make our products could only hold 10 tonnes, but now we are able to hold 27 tonnes of one product in our vats at a time! This means that before we could be creating two batches of products if we had a large order, but now we can just create one.”

What procedures does Ragus have in place in terms of ‘food safety’?

“We follow the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) which is a way of managing food safety hazards. We follow a ‘decision tree’ structure which is a flow chart of the processes of the many products we produce. We have three main features that we always adhere to: 1) Screening (sieving), 2) Metal Detection and 3) Filtration – any end products that do not pass out 3-point test are rejected.”

 

Will you miss working in the sugar industry?

“I’ve worked in the sugar industry since I was 21 and I’m now retiring at the end of this year. My father also worked in the sugar industry for 36 years, starting out as a pipe fitter and then moving over to become a chemist. I started out at a different sugar company, working in the laboratory with my father as a shift over chemist. I then progressed through the years working in various roles and finally settling on a QA role.”

What has been the most memorable times you’ve had at Ragus?

“The whole 17 years have been very interesting, and I have worked with, and met lots of great sugar industry people. I’m a very hands-on person, so I like getting involved in all aspects of the business. I have travelled to Malawi, Cuba, Paraguay, Barbados, Mauritius, Guadeloupe, Brazil, Europe where I have carried out audits; the audit looks at the whole process, from the field to the factory process and all Quality issues that relates to the sugar we buy.”

Lastly, what are the high and lows of travelling to all the sugar mills and facilities around the world?

“The highs have to be the people you meet along the way. There is such a diverse range of people with various skills and experiences, but they are all so accommodating and happy to meet, speak and entertain visitors. Visiting and auditing the refineries and mills is a pleasant experience and it’s good to see all the processes working and where the raw materials come from. I will certainly miss the travelling, especially to Malawi which was incredible, and the experiences that I have been lucky enough to encounter.

The lows about travelling… must be the mosquitoes, the snakes, the scorpions, the lizards… oh and the ‘BEWARE OF THE CROCODILES’ sign that was outside my accommodation in Malawi!”

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