Sugar industry leaders in Sales & Customer Service

Nov 29 2018

Ragus are proud to be celebrating their 90th year as a leading UK importer and manufacturer of pure sugars and syrups. Due to our heritage dating back to the 1880s we hold a unique and extremely knowledgeable position within the sugar market and our multi-million-pound state-of-the-art factory supplies hundreds of tonnes of pure sugar products to customers all over the world on a daily basis.

We provide a complete service – from scouring the globe for the best and most sustainable sources of pure cane sugar and beet to manufacturing a wide range of sugar products and delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the world. Our products span pure sugars and syrups to special formulations created by our expert team on site at our laboratory in the UK.

Ragus are fully committed to meeting all of our customers’ expectations and as a company all of our departments from accounting to our factory employees, to our sales team, work effectively together to ensure our operations run smoothly and competently. We are extremely proud that we are world renowned for our sales and customer services department, so let’s find out more about why our clients put us at a cut above the rest.

Meet Kay our Sales Office Manager who heads up customer service. Kay has become a part of Ragus’ furniture as she has been with us for 19 years.

Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. 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 baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries
 
QU: As the head of Customer Services what does your job entail? What are your responsibilities?

“My role is to ensure the smooth running of the customer service department, providing a link between customer and production. Dealing with the day to day issues and ensuring both our customer and production needs are fulfilled. We aim to establish a good working relationship with our customers so we understand their requirements and work with them continuously to ensure we can meet their expectations.”

QU: Excellent customer service is the intangible that sets a company apart from others. So, why is Ragus so renowned world-wide for their excellent customer services? What do you offer that others do not?

“We have an excellent customer service as we will always deliver what we promise. All orders are carefully planned with our team to ensure we can meet our customer requirements. We have a good relationship with our customers, so we will always try to help them. Ragus understands we are a key element to the smooth running of their operation. As we are a manufacturer ourselves, we understand the pressures of delivering orders on time and in full to ensure we meet our customer expectations.”

Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. 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 baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries
 
QU: What attributes do you feel make a great customer service person?

“A good customer service person needs to be flexible in their approach and understanding. They need to be confident, with a positive attitude to achieve results. You need to be good at working under pressure and always willing to cater to a customer’s individual requirements. Also building friendly relationships with customers always makes the job easier.”

QU: What is the process of dealing with a new client?

“When we receive a new enquiry from a new potential client, it is important to understand the customer’s expectations; we have to assess the needs of the customer on where we can offer support. We are always happy to supply samples for customers to trial and based on their requirements we would look to find the best option of supply.

Customers are looking for the suitable products to be used in their applications. With any new enquiry we would look to find out what the product is to be used in, what shelf life, if any, they require, what pack they would like the product supplied in and what volumes they will require of the product. This information will allow us to assess the right product, right pack and best option for supply.”

QU: If a customer in unsure about what pure sugars or syrups they need how do you help them determine what is best for their products?

“We are able to offer technical advice backed up by our knowledgeable teams to help find the most suitable product. The product finder on the website is a useful tool to find the right product for the application. It offers both a visual and a descriptive nature of the products Ragus supplies.”

QU: A good sales team should be accessible at all times when a customer is trying to contact them. What processes do you have in place?

“There is always a member of the team available on the telephone and via email to answer any customer enquiries and to deal with any issues. Customers can also contact us via the website where a representative of our team will get in touch. Client visits are also available upon request.”

QU: Obviously for Ragus to enjoy long-term success you must cultivate long-term relationships with clients. How do you achieve this?

“It is important to build a relationship with all customers as it allows you to get a better understanding of their business needs and their expectations. Ragus’ success is based on our long-term relationship with our customer base, our understanding of our customers’ needs and ability to deal and react efficiently to meet their requests.”

QU: Give some examples of typical questions clients’ have when they call for customer support.

“Some of my favourite questions are; “Can I have my order sooner?” or “I have run out of product can I have our order today?

One of the challenges of customer services is trying to help our clients when they have an unexpected demand they need to meet. We will always try to find a solution to meet their expectations.”

QU: When a customer places a new order, what do we offer in terms of product quantity and packaging.

“Ragus have a framework to support both small and large customers. We will assess the customer requirements and find the best option for Ragus to supply. We offer a range of packs from 25kg to bulk tankers supplying 1000kg to 25000kg. We have a flexible manufacturing facility that can catering for a range of different customers and their volume needs.”

QU: What is your greatest achievement as a Sales Office Manager for Ragus?

“I have worked for Ragus for over 19 years and over the years I have been part of the continual growth of the business and ensuring our customer base is always looked after. I have dealt with challenges of moving our manufacturing facility, growing our customer base and managing customer relationships.”

QU: Where do you think the business is going in the next couple of years? What measures are in place for gaining new customers.

“Ragus is continually growing and developing their business by focusing on a core range of products. We have a strong customer support team that is extremely knowledgeable to offer support to our existing and new client base. We are highly focused on our specific marketplace and our number one priority is always the customer. This is what is unique to Ragus and this continually appeals to an ever-expanding customer base.”

…Thanks Kay

Ragus Fun Fact:

With longevity in the sugar industry comes a wealth of knowledge of how different sugars perform, hence we are often called upon to advise both suppliers and customers.

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Christmas Cake Recipe – A Classic From Ragus

Nov 22 2018

It’s that time of the year when you need to start thinking about making your Christmas cakes, so Ragus has come up with the perfect recipe to make life simpler for you as the festive season draws nearer.

The idea behind making a Christmas cake a few weeks before the big day, is so that all the flavours of the dried fruits baked together with the spices, eggs, flour, and butter have time to mature, and react with one another, which in turn makes the flavours more intense. Ideally, a Christmas cake should also be fed at regular intervals with a little of your chosen alcohol to produce a deep, moist, rich-flavoured cake.

Christmas cake is an English tradition that began as plum porridge. People ate the porridge on Christmas Eve to line their stomachs after a day of fasting. Soon dried fruit, honey and spices were added to the porridge mixture to give it more flavour and texture, and finally Christmas pudding was born. The traditional Christmas fruit cake that we all know, and love, is a derivative of the Christmas pudding.

Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. 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 baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

One of the key ingredients in a Christmas cake is black treacle, a product that Ragus makes and supplies to manufacturers world-wide. Ragus’ Black Treacle is a mixture of 50% refiner’s syrup and 50% molasses. It has a robust flavour similar to Cane Treacle, with a more rounded, smoother flavour than molasses. Black treacle is a thick, dark, sugar syrup which is used in rich bakery products, Christmas puddings, rich fruit cakes, toffees, savoury sauces and marinades for cooking.

For more information or if you need black treacle for your baking visit: http://ragus.co.uk/product-finder/results

Ragus’ Christmas Cake Recipe:

Ingredients
· 225g plain flour
· ½ tsp mixed spice
· ½ tsp ground nutmeg
· ½ tsp ground cinnamon
· Zest of 1 lemon
· 200g butter/margarine
· 200g Ragus’ dark brown sugar
· 2 tbsp Ragus’ Black treacle
· 4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
· 800g mixed dried fruits, sultanas, currants, dates
· 100g mixed peel
· 150g glacé cherries, quartered
· 100g blanched, chopped
· 2 tbsp Brandy, Sherry or Whiskey

Method
· Cream together butter and sugar
· Mix in lemon rind and black treacle
· Add beaten eggs, alcohol and stir
· Add mixed dried fruit, spices, candied peal, almonds, cherries* and stir
· Add flour, stirring all the time. Don’t over beat!

*(chop cherries into quarters and coat with flour so they do not rise to the top and stick together)

Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. 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 baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

 
To decorate
· 200g/7oz marzipan
· 1-2 tbsp warmed apricot jam

For the royal icing
· 3 egg whites
· 600g sieved icing sugar
· 1 tbsp lemon juice

Ragus Fun Facts:

If you don’t have Ragus’ Black Treacle you can always use Ragus’ Golden Syrup instead. With a distinctive mellow tone, our Golden Syrup performs the same task as invert syrups but with added flavour and subtle golden colour. It is used in baking, biscuits, cakes, flapjacks and puddings.

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‘No-Deal’ Brexit – Should the food and drink industry be stockpiling ingredients?

Nov 15 2018

We are fast approaching the day when the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union and recent surveys conducted by the Food and Drink Federation reveal that more and more food and drink manufacturers who were surveyed are reporting an increase in costs as a result of stockpiling ahead of a possible ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

Currently the UK’s demand for sugar is around 2 million tonnes annually and the World Health Organisation’s statistics reveal that, in the UK, an average adults’ daily sugar consumption sits at 93.2 grams. So, imagine how much sugar would need to be stockpiled to keep Britain’s sweet tooth satisfied? But, what would be the cost of stockpiling and where would the stock be housed? The ultimate question is that if we find ourselves in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit situation who will fit the bill for the tariff increases; the suppliers or the customers?

Pure sugar produced 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

 

As it stands the UK food and drink industry does not have the infrastructure to support the amount of stockpiling which could be needed. Yes, we’ve all heard Theresa May saying she’s set out plans to stockpile food in the event of a ‘no-deal’ and that the public should take “reassurance and comfort” from that, but the industry remains unconvinced. Chief Executive of the Food Storage and Distribution Federation, Shane Brennan has said that, “we do not have warehouse capacity (to stockpile), never have, never will. There is no stockpiling scenario, this idea that the government is meeting the industry to discuss a grand plan is not something we or anyone else we deal with is involved in.

At the moment the food and drink industries are a finely-tuned machine. Years have been spent streamlining the industry to improve efficiency and suppliers are already using their limited storage space at full capacity, increasing space would be extremely costly; just finding the additional space would prove difficult.

Recent news has emerged that as a precautionary and protective measure one of the world’s largest snack companies, Mondelēz International Inc, will stockpile key ingredients that are essential in the production of their products, in case the UK finds itself it a ‘no-deal’ Brexit situation.

Confectionery giant Cadbury’s has also been stockpiling large amounts of ingredients, chocolates and biscuits too. Hubert Weber, the European boss of Cadbury’s, has been quoted as saying the UK is “not self-sufficient in terms of food ingredients. Like the whole of the food and drink industry in the UK, we would prefer a good deal that allows the free flow of products, as that would have less of an impact to the UK consumer.”

Pure sugar produced 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

 

Back in July, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said that the government is making plans to secure food supply in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, however, he said it was “wrong to describe it as the Government doing the stockpiling”, which means that industries would need to take the lead.

So, yet again, the Government is passing the responsibility onto the food and drink suppliers and manufacturers to sort out the situation. However, there is only so much the industries can do though as Aldi’s Chief Executive Giles Hurley, says, “the storage of additional stock is worth considering (but) based on storage and shelf life that would be very challenging.” Hubert Weber, agrees that even though stockpiling is essential until we know the outcome, “you can only do so much because of the shelf life of products”, and the capacity of the storage units. Also, smaller companies and individual producers may find it hard to stockpile or increase order sizes as they may not have the funds to buy in surplus or to find the space to store stocks; thus, for some companies it does not make economic sense to order more reserves.

A recent report presented to the Scottish Government by the FDF, reveals food and drink companies are extremely ‘nervous’ due to the uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit. Suppliers are running up huge expenses stockpiling food and ingredients in order to minimise disruption as the March deadline fast approaches. This latest research from the Food and Drink Federation has revealed that 38% of food and drink manufacturers are already reporting an increase in costs as a direct result of stockpiling ahead of a possible ‘no-deal’ Brexit. FDF Chief Executive Ian Wright says that ‘these results tell us just how seriously the food and drink industry take a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. It is a grisly prospect to which we edge closer every passing day.”

Ragus has been questioned by our own customers as to whether we will be stockpiling our products and we want to reassure our clients that we do have a certain amount sugar reserves in place, but until politicians thrash out a clear deal we will not know exactly what the outcome is, at the moment the discussions are all speculative, we have to wait for tangible facts before the whole situation can be processed. Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers has said, “just like everybody else, we are living with uncertainty and lack of clarity and the sooner that we do have some clarity, the better.”

As Ian Wright CBE, FDF Chief Executive says, “the budget announcement from the Chancellor – with measures to support productivity, exports, enterprise and investment – offers some respite for our SME food and drink manufacturers,” but right now we have to wait it out until the Government can bring us more news.

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From Plant to Plate- How Do We Get Our Sugar?

Nov 08 2018

Have you ever wondered where the sugar we use in the UK comes from? In the UK our sugar comes from two source, sugar cane and sugar beet. Two very different looking plants which have to be grown and harvested so that the sugar can be extracted from them. Sugar beet and sugar cane produce and store enough sugar that we can grow them specifically for their sugars.

Sugar cane is a tall tropical grass that reaches a height of 4 to 5 metres. To grow, it requires ample rainfall and abundant sunshine in the summer and mild winters. It’s generally found in countries like Brazil, Cuba, India, Mauritius and the West Indies. The sugar is stored in the stalks of the cane and is produced by the process of photosynthesis.

Beet, on the other hand, grows in temperate climates and is a root crop grown in the ground. Sugar Beet is grown throughout Europe, UK, Canada, Russian and China; in the UK it is grown mainly in Lincolnshire and East Anglia.

In order to get the sugar that we use on a daily basis, both cane and beet are grown, harvested and processed; however, the processes for removing the sugar from each plant is done in different ways.

Ragus gets most of its raw materials from natural sugar cane, thus here are the various techniques and processes used to extract the sugar from sugar cane.

Sugar from Cane

Sugar cane plants grow for 3-4 years, per crop, in plantations in hot tropical climates.

When matured, the cane is harvested, and the leaves are stripped ready to be taken to the processing mills.

Pure sugar produced 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
 

The Sugar Mill:

Juice Extraction
At the mill the cane stalks are washed, cut up and shredded, and juice is pressed from them using high pressure rollers. Hot water is added to improve juice extraction; the remaining dry stalks (bagasse) are burnt in the mill’s boilers to produce sustainable electricity.

Pure sugar produced 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
 

Juice Purification
The sweet natural juice is heated to 80°C and lime is added to purify and neutralise it. Fine fibre particles form a scum on the juice surface; other mineral matter sticks to the lime and settles as sediment. These solids are filtered from the juice and returned to the cane fields as natural fertiliser.
Pure sugar produced 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
 

Evaporation
Evaporators then boil the raw juice in a vacuum, heating it to a temperature of between 70°C and 130°C for up to two hours. This evaporates the natural water, creating a very sweet thick amber juice.

Crystallisation
The amber juice is then seeded with tiny sugar crystals, and again boiled under vacuum, which allows the crystals to grow to create a super-saturated massecuite syrup. During this process the natural raw colour, flavour and aroma of molasses is formed.

Sugar separation
Centrifugal machines spin the massecuite syrup (at 1,050 rpm) for two minutes to separate the crystals from the liquid. The separated syrup still contains a lot of sugar, so it’s spun four times to extract the maximum amount of raw sugar. The first and second spins produce sugar, shipped in bulk for white sugar refining. The third and fourth spins are mixed with a magma of molasses to produce affinated and muscovado sugars, used to produce special sugars.

Pure sugar produced 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
 

Drying, Sieving & Bagging
Once the sugar crystals are separated, they enter a drum rotating drier and are cooled. Raw sugar is loaded into lorries for delivery to the port terminal. Special sugars are passed over a vibrating screen and through a rare earth magnet, to remove foreign particles, before being packed into bags and shipped accordingly.

Here at Ragus, our UK sugar manufacturing facility, is one of the world’s most advanced sugar manufacturing sites producing hundreds of tonnes of sugars and syrups each day – from unrefined Demerara sugars, to refiners syrups, molasses and treacles to blends incorporating glucose syrups and many, many more. These include highly specialised custom formulations created by our sugar experts to meet customer demands.

Ragus Fun Fact:
We source our sugars from certified supplier mills and refineries all over the world. The sugar arrives in thousand kilo bags inside metal cargo containers, which are taken directly from the ships to our Berkshire factory. Continue Reading »

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From Field to Fork

Nov 01 2018

Have you ever wondered where the sugar we use in the UK comes from? Currently the UK’s demand for sugar is around 2 million tonnes annually, but recent polls reveal that British shoppers do not know where the sugar in their food, drink and pharmaceutical products actually comes from.

In the UK our sugar comes from two sources, sugar cane and sugar beet. Two very different looking plants which have to be grown and harvested so that the sugar can be extracted from them. Sugar beet and sugar cane produce and store enough sugar that we can grow them specifically for their sugars.

Sugar Beet is grown throughout Europe, UK, Canada, Russian and China; in the UK it is grown mainly in Lincolnshire and East Anglia.

Beet needs to grow in temperate climates and is a root crop grown in the ground. A mature sugar beet grows to about one foot long, weighs between two to five pounds, and contains about 18% sucrose, which is concentrated in its taproot. In order to get the sugar that we use on a daily basis, both cane and beet are grown, harvested and processed; however, the processes for removing the sugar from each plant is done is different ways.

Beet sugar being grown; Ragus supports all its farmers and producers with advice and support on how to optimiseefficiencies, and promote the cause of sustainable sugar production

 

The History of Sugar Beet:
European sugar beet dates back to the 16th century when French soil scientist Olivier de Serres found that some beet substances could be processed to a state that very much resembled sucrose fluid, the same substance found in sugarcane. Then, in mid 1700s German physicist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf confirmed the presence of sugar in beet, and in 1784, his student Franz Karl Achard managed to establish the first beet sugar processing plant; thus, the European sugar beet industry was born. In 1900 between 60% and 90% of raw sugar bought into the UK for refining was beet sugar from Austria and Germany. During the First World War nearly all raw sugar switched to cane sugar, the rationing quotas of which was controlled by Charles Eastick, founder of Ragus, who was awarded the M.B.E. for his service. Charles realised Britain’s vulnerability in the supply of sugar, so as the need was great, we started to grow our own beet.

How do we get Sugar from Sugar Beet?

The Field:
Sugar beet is a biennial plant which builds up a store of sugar in its roots during the first year of its biological cycle, then in the second year it uses its stored sugar to flower and seed. However, it is at the end of the first year that the beet is harvested to extract the sugar.

The beet seeds are sown in Mid-March and then the crop is harvested in September – December. To harvest the beet, the farmers cut off the green tops, remove the beets from the ground, cleans them and they are then put on trailers. The green tops are not wasted, they are used for animal feeds or as fertilizer.

Beet sugar being grown; Ragus supports all its farmers and producers with advice and support on how to optimiseefficiencies, and promote the cause of sustainable sugar production

The Sugar Factory:
· Once harvested, the beet is transported to sugar factories where the beet is washed and sliced.
· The beet slices are placed into a huge rotating cylinder full of hot water as the sugar needs to be separated from the rest of the plant.
· The sugar diffuses out of the beet slices into the hot water, leaving a sugar bearing juice which is heated, together with lime and carbon dioxide gas, to form a chalk/calcium carbonate, in order to remove the non-sugar materials from the liquid; this is known as carbonatation.
· A pale-yellow sparkling juice is left, which is then gassed further in another tank (2nd Carbonatation) and filtered.
·The water is then boiled off from this yellow juice in steam heated evaporators to form a thick syrup.
· The thick syrup is then concentrated in vacuum tanks where the sugar crystals are formed; any remaining residual syrup is removed from the finished crystals in a centrifuge.
The remaining crystals are then washed and dried, leaving the white sugar that we know and use.
· There is no wastage with sugar beet, the remains of the beet once the juice is extracted, is used to make animal feed.
· When beet is processed correctly there is no difference between the white sugar extracted from beet to that of cane.

Ragus Facts:
We provide a complete service – from scouring the globe for the best and most sustainable sources of beet and pure cane sugar to manufacturing a wide range of sugars products and delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the world. Our products span pure sugars and syrups to special formulations created by our expert team on site at our laboratory in the UK.

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