Sugar accreditations: another level of quality

Jun 28 2019

Having a high-quality sugar product is one thing – ensuring it is certified by some of the world’s leading bodies is what elevates sugar to another level. 

What are sugar accreditations?

As one of the most ubiquitous foodstuffs in the world, sugar comes under extreme quality control scrutiny to ensure that the global supply is safe for consumption and exactly as advertised. Accreditations take this process one step further, allowing sugar products to be certified against the unique and rigorous standards of a range of industry-specific bodies. Put simply, this is the difference between an ordinary bar of a chocolate and a certified bar.

The importance of these is the instant information they provide a potential buyer or end consumer. At a glance, they can quickly ascertain the merits of a sugar product, both in terms of the quality it offers an end product and the way it was sourced or produced. In theory, this could prove to be the difference between a sale and a buyer choosing another sugar product.

As such, Ragus Sugars’ proudly holds several accreditations. Although quality control is the second of our 10 corporate social responsibility (CSR) pillars, we believe having products that are further tested against these industry-specific standards is the best way to ensure our clients receive premium sugar products every time they order. Below are some examples of the accreditations we hold and their importance to our products.

ISO

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is the world’s most recognised standard-setting body. Its ISO 9000 family of quality management systems ensure that organisations across the globe meet the statutory and regulatory requirements that customers and stakeholders demand. Through Quality Assurance Systems Ltd. Ragus Sugars is certified to have documented evidence showing adherence to ISO 9000, ISO 9000:2000, and ISO 14000.

British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCG)

The BRCG is a leading brand and consumer protection organisation used by over 28,000 suppliers across 130 countries that is primarily designed to deliver confidence in supply chains. Ragus Sugars holds BRGC certification in Food, Packaging, Consumer Products and Storage & Distribution, providing assurance to our customers that all aspects of our operations are of the highest safety and legal quality.

Bonsucro

Ragus Sugars is a member of Bonsucro, an internationally recognised not for-profit organisation whose primary mission is reduce the environmental and social impacts of sugarcane production.  This is achieved through its leading metric-based certification system and continuous support for all actors in the sugar supply chain. More on Bonsucro’s work can be found in our blog.

European Brewing Convention (EBC)

All our sugar products for the brewing industry adhere to the standards set out by the EBC. The EBC uses a special scale based on sugar and malts to grade the colour of a product. To determine this, a sample is taken and placed in a spectrophotometer, allowing the percentage of sugar to be analysed. From here, when the percentage of sugar is higher, the malt or sugar is darker.

Fairtrade Foundation

The Fairtrade Foundation is a global movement designed to ensure farmers and producers are paid fairly for their work. The core Fairtrade mark is a registered certification label that shows products adhere to the Fairtrade Standards. At Ragus Sugars, we are proud to offer several products that bear this mark.

Organic Food Federation

Companies that produce certified organic products and are registered with the Organic Food Federation can use the OFF symbol on relevant products. The use of this symbol on several of our products means they are fully compliant with the organic regulations. For Ragus Sugars this means the raw product sourced must be grown without the use of pesticides or genetic modification.

Sugar Mark

Being able to use the Sugarmark symbol means we adhere to the internal quality criteria ‘Codex Alimentarius’ which was set up by the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. It is the global symbol of naturally grown sugar used by growers and producers and promotes the cause of good food for everyone, everywhere.

International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA)

All our sugar from crystalline to syrup is tested against the ICUMSA scale which measures colour and moisture. The ICUMSA is a global body that brings together the activities of 20 member states from the National Committees for Sugar Analysis. This method of sugar grading by colour provides an easy way for producers to categorise sugars in line with globally recognised guidelines.

Having seen the accreditations we hold, visit our product finder for your next sugar product.

No responses yet

Granular detail: golden syrup

Jun 21 2019

Golden syrup is fundamental to a huge variety of foodstuffs across the globe. Here we look at its link to Ragus’ history and what exactly it takes to produce the famous golden elixir.

What is the history of the golden elixir?

Golden syrup’s journey into becoming one of the most easily recognisable and loved sugar products throughout the world begins with Ragus Sugars’ founder Charles Eastick. Spurred on the by the rapidly increasing ubiquity of sugar in British life, he, along with his brothers John Joseph and Samuel, established a sugar analysis practice in 1880. Initially, this was designed to assist with accurate pricing and duty payments, but an importing crisis in 1883 forced the brothers to experiment with turning the molasses-brown treacle-like by-product of the sugar refining process into a palatable product.

As a result, Charles devised the formulation for golden syrup. First sold in its now iconic metal tins just two years later, it has since been officially recognised as the world’s oldest branded product. Having made this breakthrough, Charles would then go on to develop unique methods for making brewers’ saccharum and other inverted sugars.

Fast forward to the 1920s, and it was the identification of another gap in the UK’s sugar market that would lead to the foundation of the Ragus Sugars. During this decade, very small amounts of specialised sugars were being imported into Britain, largely due to it being economically unviable for the larger manufacturers to produce these themselves. Having noticed this, Charles set up a factory on the brand-new Slough Trading Estate dedicated to the production of, among other things, golden syrup, with this being the predecessor to the state-of-the-art facility Ragus Sugars has today.

Golden syrup produced by Ragus, one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers, from its advanced manufacturing site in the UK that also produces a range of pure sugars, blends and glucose products

Golden syrup was first formulated by our founder, Charles Eastick, in order to deal with a sugar importing crisis in 1883

What products is golden syrup used in?

As with most full or partially inverted sugar syrups, golden syrup is primarily used when manufacturing products in bulk either as a humectant, to prevent crystallisation, or for its distinct flavour profile. It is also able to withstand higher baking temperatures, making it ideally suited for biscuits, cakes, cookies, and flapjacks. Our clients may produce these goods on an industrial scale for international retail, but recipes for how to reproduce their results on a domestic level can be found here.

What makes golden syrup so ideally suited to these applications is its properties. Not only does it possess a sweetness value approximately 20% greater than straight sucrose (white sugar), but it also has a subtle golden colour that gives many products their distinct appearance. Complimenting this is golden syrup’s mellow and instantly recognisable flavour.

The current rise in veganism has also seen golden syrup increasingly utilised as a substitute for honey in a variety of products. While in a technical sense one cannot be swapped straight for the other, the two possess enough similar characteristics to make golden syrup a passable vegan alternative in this context.

How is golden syrup produced at Ragus Sugars?

Golden syrup production at Ragus Sugars today is the perfect fusion of our storied heritage and present-day expertise. We have developed the initial formulation devised by our founder Charles Eastick and combined this with our cutting-edge manufacturing facility, resulting in a superior product that is used in foodstuffs the world over. As well as being explored in more detail in a previous blog, the below video details our golden syrup manufacturing process in full, from sourcing to delivery.

To order the original golden syrup for your application, contact us now. 

No responses yet

Specialist sugars in medicated confectionary and cough syrups

Jun 18 2019

Sugar has been a staple in over-the-counter remedies for centuries. This week, we look at what different sugar products can help the medicine go down.

What is medicated confectionary?

Medicated confectionary is a medicinal product used to treat very minor ailments that take the form of a traditional piece of confectionary. Typically, this a hard-boiled sweet, lozenge or gum containing a formulation of medicine, sweetening agents and often vitamins or minerals that is used to alleviate the symptoms of coughs, colds and sore throats. As a result, medicated confectionary usually experiences a spike in popularity during the winter months.

In addition, their relative ease of access and ability to provide often instant relief make these products highly popular, so much so that Mordor Intelligence expects the global market to be worth $7.5 billion by 2023. As is the case with most pharmaceutical products (explored in more detail in a recent blog ), sugar plays a vital role in these products, both for taste and functional reasons.

Why is sugar used in cough syrups and medicated confectionary?

For medicated confectionary such as lozenges, glucose syrups aid in binding and solidifying the product, allowing the slow release of minerals and medicine to ease congestion, or sooth an irritated throat. Using glucose syrup, a liquid, reduces the risk of potentially damaging crystallisation and helps to ensure the right mouthfeel and texture of the final product.

 

Treacle improves the mouthfeel of cough syrups

Sugar also finds a home in nearly all cough syrups, however its role in these products differs. Cough syrups have a variety of ingredients and formulas, but most contain vitamins and different medicines to help ease throat irritations, coughs and colds. Without a sweetening agent these are often bitter and not particularly easy to swallow. The use of treacle which contains molasses masks the bitter flavours, as well as improving the mouthfeel and viscosity of the cough syrup and adding colour.

The molasses content in treacle is beneficial in the formulation of cough syrups as it contains a high level of trace minerals such as iron and calcium. Interestingly, due to the colour of cane sugar leaves, molasses can give the syrup a green tint. As a result, very small quantities of caramel can be used to improve colour to give it the red hue we often see. To extend the shelf life of a syrup, sugar glucose is best used as it can be stored for long periods of time.

What is the benefit of using Ragus Pure Sugars’ products?

As treacle, sugar glucose and caramel are all liquid solutions, the production of both cough mixture and medicated confectionary is made more energy efficient and economical. Unlike using crystalline, the sugar does not need to be dissolved into a liquid and then cooled. Using a liquid sugar product also reduces the manual handling required and no packaging handling therefore also reducing labour costs.

At Ragus Pure Sugars each syrup produced is tested to the highest standards in our state-of-the-art factory to ensure quality and consistency across all products to help you produce uniform products. We offer a range of products to suit different applications and offer consultations to talk through your requirements to help find a sugar that meets your needs.

No responses yet

Granular detail: Liquid Sugar

Jun 14 2019

Liquid sugar is present in the food and drinks we consume daily. In this week’s blog we explain what it is, where it can be used and how it should be stored.

What is liquid sugar and what products can it be used in?
Liquid sugar is a water-based sucrose solution made from white refined sugar or natural raw cane sugar and water. Classed as a syrup, it has a dry substance content of 66%. The applications of liquid sugar can vary from mouthfeel, the physical sensation caused by a product in the mouth, to more traditional roles such as sweetening.

Due to its highly adaptable nature, liquid sugar is used in a variety of products. Its liquid form means it is ideally suited to soft drinks, with this property also meaning it is easy to manage and handle. Moreover, as the sucrose is a fluid, it automates some of the production process for beverages, resulting in a quicker manufacturing process compared to using crystalline sugar.

Alongside this, liquid sugar can also easily and effectively add bulk to a diverse range of foodstuffs. These include dairy products, ice cream, and confectionery products such as toffee. Liquid sugars can also be used to aid initial fermentation in beer and cider, and then be used to prime them for secondary fermentation in the cask or bottle and it can be used to coat cereal bars.

Liquid sugar has a wide range of applications, from the production of toffee to aiding initial beer and cider fermentation

What are the benefits of using Ragus Pure Sugars’ liquid sugar?
When producing a product such as a soft drink, or even toffee, the process needs to be as streamlined as possible in order to reduce production time while still ensuring a consistent end result. Using liquid sugar, compared to a crystalline, speeds up production as the sugar is already in a solution, meaning it requires less manual handling and no packaging handling, thus reducing energy and labour costs. The other benefit of using liquid sugar is it helps ensure that every single batch is constantly the same, reducing the potential for contamination in the product process.

At Ragus’ Pure Sugars, every syrup we produce in our state-of-the-art factory is rigorously tested throughout the production process to ensure consistency and quality. From liquid sugar to invert, every treacle and syrup that is delivered is quality checked to help you produce consistent quality products.

What liquid sugar products do Ragus Pure Sugars produce?
Ragus Pure Sugars offer a range of sugar products, from liquid cane sugar and liquid refined sugar to custom formulations that meet organic and Fairtrade standards. To discover which of these is ideally suited to your application, use our product finder, the ideal tool for ensuring your end product is perfect every time.

Following this, we then offer a consultation with our customers to help you find the right sugar for your application and work with you to produce the sugar product that meets your needs.

For further information contact our sales team on the details below.

No responses yet

How is sugar used in the pharmaceutical industry?

Jun 12 2019

From bulking agents to grain sizes – we’ve come a long way from just a “spoonful of sugar”

What is an excipient?

An excipient is an inactive substance that acts as the dosage vehicle for an active drug. In the pharmaceutical industry, sugar often occupies this role, performing functions ranging from adding bulk and consistency to tablets, to making unpleasant tasting medicines palatable. The sugar used for this is usually either pharma grade sucrose or invert sugar syrup.

Alongside taste and texture, sugar is also used as a pharmaceutical excipient in tablets and capsules to assist with appearance and ease of transport and storage. Once sugar-coated, a tablet is protected from the damaging effects of air and moisture, is easier to swallow due to an improved flavour, and, once combined with colouring agents, is quickly identifiable. Recent trends have seen traditional sucrose replaced by synthetic polymers, but, as explained in a previous blog, these can never truly replicate the natural humectant properties of sugar.

Such decisions reflect a wider global reluctance among consumers to medicate themselves with products containing natural sugars. For this to have permeated to the pharmaceutical industry is telling, given that sugar’s role within this sector is functional and it is always inert whenever present. Once this trend has passed, we can expect to see sugar regain its place as the go-to-choice as an excipient in the pharmaceutical industry.

Although an inactive ingredient, sugar is crucial to the medicines consumed by millions across the world

What is pharma grade invert sugar syrup?

While pharmaceutical applications that traditionally favoured sucrose are turning to alternatives, the demand for pharma grade invert sugar syrup is higher than ever. Primarily used to counteract the unpleasant taste of the active ingredients in some medicines, pharma grade invert sugar syrup can also add viscosity to a product and act as a diluent, meaning it adds bulk. In addition, the sugar also provides a quick hit of energy, particularly useful in cold and flu medications, and helps to extend the shelf life of the products as well as improve the taste

India has been a key driver behind this recent spike in the demand for pharma grade invert sugar syrup. A growing middle class has led to increased awareness of and demand for medical treatment, forcing drug manufacturers to turn to external sugar vendors to keep up with consumer requirements. As a result, several new bulk industrial sugar manufacturing facilities have sprung up across India, with this still only going part way to fully satisfying the demand.

At Ragus Pure Sugars, our range of full and partial pharma grade invert sugar syrups are the product of decades of experience and expertise. Such precision, care and insistence on quality is crucial when producing any sugar product, with this being heightened when that product is destined for use in the pharmaceutical industry. A full explanation of what goes into producing invert sugar at Ragus Pure sugars can be found here.

How is pharma grade sugar tested and what accreditations must it receive?

Due to the nature of the pharmaceutical industry, all sugar used in it is subject to extremely rigorous testing. The European Council’s European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur. or EP) is the legal and scientific benchmark against which all pharmaceutical products produced and sold in 38 European, and over 100 worldwide, countries are measured. This ensures standards are kept extremely high and that only products of the highest quality are produced.

Running in parallel with the EP is the British Pharmacopoeia (BP). Since 1864, this has provided quality standards for the pharmaceutical and medicinal products produced and consumed in the UK and over 100, primarily former Commonwealth, countries. All sugars designated for use in this sector are given a British Pharmacopoeia Chemical Reference Substance (BPCRS) – a document outlining the exact chemical structure they must have in order to be deemed fit for use. An example of the BPCRS for sucrose can be found here.

Ensuring strict compliance with the standards set out by both the EP and BP underpins the pharma grade sugars produced at Ragus Pure Sugars. In doing so, we can guarantee that the products we deliver to clients in the pharmaceutical sector are consistently of the highest quality and specifically formulated for their application. Overall, this results in reliable sugars that lead to a repeatable end-product, something that is crucial when manufacturing in bulk.

Contact us now to ensure your pharmaceutical grade sugar benefits from our dedicated approach to quality, consistency and on-time delivery.

No responses yet

Global sugar market report 2019

Jun 07 2019

Droughts, monsoons, and the world’s biggest vote – it’s been quite a few months for the sugar market across the globe.

Global sugar market position

Last year saw extraordinarily good weather for growing sugar crops globally, resulting in record crops and stocks. Global sugar prices, therefore, dropped below 10 c/lb for the first time in ten years. Sugar prices are now starting to recover slightly, currently at 12 c/lb, which is approaching the 15 c/lb we saw in our last report at the end of January, but still nowhere near the level needed to turn a profit.

The top 20 global sugar companies reduced production in 2018/19 and world production is estimated to fall to 187.3 mln tonnes in 2019/20 from 201.2 mln tonnes in 18/19. Low sugar prices have seen profits reduce across the industry, leading to losses and rising debt levels for production mills. A continuing contributing factor to these falling global prices has been India’s domestic support to cane farmers and its subsidies to sugar exports. A further impact of this has been reduced production in Brazil, Thailand and China.

On the other hand, European producers have multi-year agreements with beet farmers, meaning sugar beet production will remain high for 2019/20, keeping prices low and impacting on producer margins. Global sugar production for 18/19 is estimated at 185.7 mln tonnes with global consumption at 184.9 mln tonnes, up from 183.3 mln tonnes in 17/18. The minimal global surplus compares with a surplus of 7.8 mln tonnes in 2017/18.

Beet surpluses and insecticide bans continue to cause issues in Europe

The European sugar sector has suffered an unprecedented change since the abolition of EU sugar quotas in 2017, distorting the market during this transitional period. Germany’s Südzucker saw sugar beet production reduce by 1.2 mln tonnes, Tereos of France suffered from oversupply on the EU market, and AB Sugar of the UK also suffered with profitability, with this blow being somewhat softened by a weak British pound. Nordzucker of Germany and Cristal Union of France both saw beet sugar production fall by 400,000 tonnes each.

These low sugar prices, combined with a continuing ban on the use of neonicotinoid, have seen beet planting across Europe for the 2019/20 crop down by 6%. The ban was introduced to protect the harming of bees from the use of the insecticides found in neonics. However, with no suitable alternative, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are exempt from the ban. As well as this, the population count of Aphids is increasing across Europe, particularly in Belgium, Netherlands and the UK.

The reduction in sugar production from the 18/19 crop has seen a reduction in exports and an increase in sugar imports. Predictions for the 2019/20 beet crop are up slightly at 18.6 mln tonnes compared to 18.2 mln tonnes in 18/19, due to an expected yield recovery which was affected by drought last year.

Sourcing is at the heart of Ragus' business: it sources sugar beet from Europe and travels the world from Africa to the Caribbean to South America and the Pacific countries to find the best, most reliable, and sustainably produced, sources of cane sugar. The sugar is manufactured by Ragus at its UK plant into a range of pure sugars, syrups and special formulations

Weather disrupts sugar beet planting in Ukraine and Russia

Having been delayed by a cold, wet spring, sugar beet sowing is almost complete in Russia. Ukraine has experienced heavy rains which may result in lower beet yields and decreased extraction rates, although the total area sown has more than doubled compared to this time last year.

Indications for the 2018/19 harvest is Russia producing 6.5 mln tonnes, down from 7.1 mln tonnes in 17/18 and the Ukraine producing 2.0 mln tonnes of sugar. Factories will continue producing sugar from beet syrup from the 18/19 crop until the end of this month.

Brazilian currency fluctuations could affect world sugar prices 

Above average rains helped cane development of the 2019/20 crop. Harvesting began in April and continues at a good pace but is still behind last year. The volatility of the oil market and the Brazilian currency is not favouring an ethanol orientated sugar mix resulting in VHP sugar prices above that of hydrous.

Longer term this could affect the world sugar prices, with the market not needing any additional sugar from Brazil. The reality though is that 101 mills will not operate this year (23%) due to depressed sugar prices, so the likelihood is that the cane will be used for ethanol production at around 63.5% of the share, reducing sugar yet again to 36.5%.

The end of the 2018/19 harvest in Brazil was disrupted by heavy rains, sugar production reaching 26.5 mln tonnes, which was 13.9 mln tonnes less than 17/18 production. Cane used to produce sugar fell to an all-time low with mills unlikely to switch back to producing sugar until prices recover to over 13 c/lb.

Dry weather leads to good cane harvest in Thailand

An early start to the harvest with continued dry weather gave the cane a high sucrose concentration, resulting in good yields. Analysts predicted an early finish to the 2018/19 crop later this month. The tail end to this year’s crop is strong and will be close to the record 17/18 harvest which produced 15 mln tonnes of sugar, meaning exports will hit an all-time high as the country tries to reduce its stocks. For 2019/20, the deregulation no longer allowing government subsidises for cane growing during times of low world market prices is likely to result in less sugar being produced.

No signs of sugar industry subsidies ending as India re-elects PM

Early bullish predictions for the 2018/19 crop had to be altered as the crop evolved due to weather and pests impacting on the cane development, however the crop recovered and now at the tail of the harvest, estimates have increased to 35.9 mln tonnes. A historical high level of stocks (25.5 mln tonnes) is being stored by the Indian mills, so the newly elected government is likely to extend export subsidies into the 2019/20 season in order to clear this glut of sugar and help prop up local prices.

Australia, Brazil and Guatemala are trying to halt India via appealing to the WTO, stating that the government is granting more than the agreed 10% subsidy. With high payment arrears, many farmers are switching to other crops such as soybean and pulses. A poor monsoon, which is already delayed, in the months of June to September from the El Niño effect will also contribute to a reduced 19/20 crop.

Drought recovery boosts Africa’s production levels

Due to several countries’ recovery from severe drought conditions, African cane sugar production is expected to rise to 10.3 mln tonnes in 2018/19 compared to 9.4 mln tonnes in 17/18. However, domestic sugar prices have strengthened in Africa as a result of flooding in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe after cyclone Idai hit the region in April. Mauritius is expected to produce 325,000 tonnes of sugar from the 2018/19 crop, an increase on earlier predictions but down on the 355,000 tonnes produced in 17/18 and continues the country’s sugar decline from the 600,000 tonnes produced in the early 2000s.The country is looking to increase exports of speciality sugars to 180,000 tonnes by 2023.

In South Africa the government may consider support measures to help restructure the sugar industry. Sugar production reached 2.1 mln tonnes in 18/19, compared with 1.9 mln in 2017/18 after the recovery of the cane yields. In Swaziland good rainfall levels have seen sugar production rise by 14% to a record 800,000 tonnes.

Nordzucker makes move for Australia’s Mackay Sugar

The 2019/20 harvest is starting up and it is predicted that the sugar produced will fall to less than 4.6 mln tonnes as a result of too much rain in the north and not enough in the south. The Australian 18/19 harvest came to an early end in December, dry weather leading to a drop in yields with the country producing 4.7 mln tonnes, the same as in 17/18.

Nordzucker of Germany is looking to purchase 70% of Mackay Sugar, which needs restructuring and funds to invest in its deteriorating mills. The company has not made a profit since 2014 due to falling sugar prices. Farmers back the offer as it would secure their future crop and give them a 30% stake in the company.

Mexico rises while the USA falls

Wet weather delayed the start of the 2018/19 Mexican harvest, but a strong sucrose yield and increased acreage planted saw 6.2 mln tonnes sugar produced in 18/19. More than 700,000 tonnes of sugar have been diverted onto the world market due to the reduction in the US quota, making Mexico one of the biggest exporters in 2018/19.

The US beet crop will be the smallest since 14/15 at 4.4 mln tonnes due to cold weather in the harvest season, resulting in lower extraction rates. The cane crop, however, is expected to reach a record 3.7 mln tonnes. US stock levels are high resulting in the reduced Mexican import quota.

China increases its cultivation area

China has increased its area under cultivation for sugar crops in 2019/2020 by 5,000 hectares compared to the 18/19 season. The sugar purchasing price has remained stable with continued enthusiasm for the crop over lower prices for alternatives. China’s sugar production for 19/20 is estimated to be 10.88 mln tonnes, an increase of 150,000 tonnes over 18/19. Sugar consumption remains unchanged at 15.2 mln tonnes. The need for imported sugar in 2019/20 will be 3.04 mln tonnes, which is an increase of 140,000 tonnes from 18/19.

No responses yet