How to reduce sugarcane GHG emissions: Bonsucro

Feb 15 2019

Sugarcane greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be cut by over half, alongside a 65% reduction in water use, and an increase in yield if producers adopt Bonsucro’s voluntary sustainability standards (VSS).

A landmark report from the University of Minnesota has shown “that adoption of the environmental criteria in the Bonsucro VSS […] would greatly reduce the direct environmental damage caused by sugarcane production.”

The study finds that global compliance with the Bonsucro VSS has the potential to deliver a 65% reduction in irrigation water use and a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Combined with these resource savings is increased yields generated by shifting production from nutrient-starved land to more traditionally agriculture-focused areas.

What are Bonsucro’s voluntary sustainability standards?

Voluntary sustainability standards are a set of principles producers uphold to deliver more sustainable production. Bonsucro VSS is sufficiently rigorous that even just 10% global adoption could, according to the report, still deliver over half the predicted environmental impacts of complete global compliance.

This highlights how a multi-criteria approach to any VSS underpins its real-world success. As the report finds, “only complying with individual criteria of the Bonsucro VSS […] results in unintended detrimental environmental outcomes.”

The report represents a key initial step to identifying the most effective way to implement a universal approach to agricultural production that has sustainability at its core. As it’s widely assumed global demand for sugarcane is set to double, initiatives such as the Bonsucro VSS may become vital to the future health of both our planet and the wider sugar industry,” highlights Ben Eastick, Ragus’ Marketing Director.

How to limit deforestation through Bonsucro VSS

To grow enough food to meet global demand, large areas of biodiversity rich ecosystems are currently converted into farming land. Implementation of Bonsucro VSS could significantly limit this practice, moving sugarcane production away from severely-water stressed and arid areas to more fit-for-purpose, arable land.

Such measures are in line with the growing number of commitments being made by the private sector to only source from deforestation-free and land conversion-free producers – Coca-Cola, for example, has said it will move towards 100% sustainably sourced water in the coming years.

Ensuring supply meets demand without destroying ecosystems is one of the greatest challenges facing global sugarcane production. The Bonsucro VSS’s ability to offer this, as Eastick notes, is “what makes it so exciting, and potentially crucial to shaping the future of sustainably sourced sugarcane.

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
 
“This issue of responsible production is pertinent to all levels of consumer – we’ve already seen India threaten to boycott PepsiCo and Coca-Cola over excessive water use. As a member of Bonsucro, we can now use this research as a springboard from which to base our own commitment to ethical sourcing.”

Quality; quantity; enforcement: making Bonsucro VSS a real-world success

The report, however, leaves a key question unanswered: what method of implementation for Bonsucro VSS will deliver the greatest impact? Although the model used by the researchers shows that a theoretical blanket adoption could reduce environmental harm, such an approach is not currently feasible in practice.

Reducing or eliminating sugarcane production in some areas under Bonsucro VSS would place a severe economic burden on many producers, potentially ruining livelihoods and damaging local economies.

“It is vital to the success of Bonsucro VSS that we work to find a solution to this challenge, scoping out what the report refers to as the best ‘rules of the game’ for producers to be both profitable and sustainable,” Eastick adds. “Without these, producers will lack the incentives necessary to guarantee Bonsucro VSS can deliver on its promises,”

Currently, the main driver behind compliance for producers is convenience, often leaving those areas that could deliver the greatest reduction in environmental harm ignored.

Can Bonsucro VSS gain wider acceptance to meet WWF targets?

Once a reasonable framework is agreed upon, the next step to ensuring Bonsucro VSS achieves maximum environmental impact is targeted implementation. Most of the standards’ benefits could be felt from targeting a relatively small area of sugar production, something that is missed by sweeping statements such as the WWF’s goal to have 25% of all producers enrolled under Bonsucro VVS by 2020.

This approach must also be backed by effective enforcement of Bonsucro standards on producers from all relevant bodies – failure to do so can produce a situation like the one experienced in Brazil, where only 6% of landowners enact the Brazilian Forest Code.

“There is, of course, still work to be done in terms of transferring Bonsucro VSS from a solution that works well in a scientific model to one that can have a real-world impact,” concludes Eastick. “These findings, however, do offer huge encouragement and what could be the first steps to sustainable harvests that don’t compromise on yields or producers’ livelihoods.”

The report shows that Bonsucro VSS can offer hope. Further research and time will tell whether it can deliver on its headline promises, but implementation in any form would significantly reduce the environmental impact of sugarcane production.

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
 

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Christmas Pudding Production Starts Now

Feb 06 2019

For the most of us we maybe polishing off the last of the chocolates or eating the last slice of Christmas cake, however, did you know that food manufacturers are already planning and producing Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings for December 2019. Christmas doesn’t just come around one day a year for the food industry, some companies manufacture and produce festive food 365 days a year!

In the UK, there are several bakeries and cake manufacturers that not only have to make sure they have enough produce for the UK domestic market, but for exporting to Europe and worldwide too! Thus, festive food production never ends! Christmas pudding is still the most popular Christmas day dessert among over 55s, 59% of whom eat it on Christmas Day.

Christmas pudding is an English tradition that began as plum porridge which people ate on Christmas Eve; as a way of lining their stomachs after a day of fasting. This recipe soon evolved as dried fruit, spices and honey were added to the porridge mixture, and eventually it turned into Christmas pudding and Christmas Fruitcake. Today, fruitcake is a cake made with candied or dried fruit, nuts, spices, dark soft brown sugar, muscovado sugar or molasses and soaked in spirits, then decorated accordingly.

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
 
All Christmas cakes and puddings should be made in advance of Christmas. Many people make them months before Christmas and top up them up with a small amount of alcohol at regular intervals; this process is called “feeding” the cake. Plus, fruit cakes and Christmas puddings can last a long time as the sugar ingredients act as a preservative, and the added alcohol helps to kill bacteria and prevents mould.

Established in 1928, Ragus today are a leading supplier in the production of brown sugars, syrups and treacles for major food, drink and pharmaceutical companies. We supply many leading cake and bakery manufacturers with their pure sugars as ingredients for taste, texture and appearance; including the oldest manufacturer of Christmas puddings in the world, who makes a staggering 96% of the UK’s puddings!

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
 
Ragus has a variety of different pure sugar and syrup products that are suitable for using in Christmas cake and Christmas pudding recipes, (see below), and they can all be can be found at: http://ragus.co.uk/product-finder/results

· BL10 Dark Soft Brown Sugar has a dark-brown appearance with a strong rich taste. Its texture is fine/medium, and it will provide strong flavour and colour to fruit cakes, toffee and savoury sauces. It’s high molasses content also adds moisture to cakes.

· BL01 Dark Cane Muscovado Sugar is also dark brown in appearance and has a strong rich flavour with a fine/medium texture and is ideal for chocolate-based preparations, rich fruit and Christmas cakes. It’s fine texture suitable for savoury sauces, chutneys, pickles and toffee sauces. Plus, it’s high molasses content, enables a one-product application, replacing white sugar and molasses.

· TM03 Cane Molasses is black in appearance with a very strong taste and a thick/coarse texture. It is suitable for Christmas puddings, toffee and savoury sauces.

· TM10 Molasses 78% is black in appearance and also has a very strong flavour profile but it has a lower sugar value for added pourability. It is suitable for Christmas puddings, toffee and savoury sauces.

Our UK sugar factory has been designed to the latest food manufacturing standards, uses highly efficient processes and includes smart technology to ensure we deliver our pure sugars, glucose syrups and specialist blends on time and in full to customers. We supply artisan bakers and brewers to well-known blue chip global brands with sugar products that are used across the baking, brewing, confectionery, drinks and pharmaceutical, industries. We are always happy to offer advice to new and existing customers to help with all their pure sugars needs.

Ragus Facts:
Using dark sugar – demerara, molasses and dark muscovado in Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings keeps the crumb of the cake moist and adds to depth of flavour

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UK Sugar Beet Harvest 2018/2019

Jan 31 2019

UK farmers are entering the final weeks of the 2018/19 beet harvest. Weather has again played a major factor in the yields which have declined compared to the 2017/18 crop. The UK processing factories in Cantley and Bury St Edmunds are due to stop slicing mid-February and the Newark plant will stop towards the end of March.

Back in August 2018, EU industry executives predicted that there would be a fall in sugar production in the 2018/19. This prediction has proved correct with the top producing countries including Germany, France, Poland and Britain, all seeing a decline in beet sugar production by 2.8 million tonnes. Delayed planting due to snow, followed by increased rainfall in early March put European beet farmers on the back foot. Improved weather in April and high temperatures in May saw rapid beet development until the end of June, but subsequent prolonged dryness has consistently reduced yield forecasts and slowed beet harvesting as farmers have struggled to lift the crop from the soil.

“As with most arable crops, sugar beet has been affected by the exceptionally dry and warm conditions this summer,” said Colm McKay, agriculture director at British Sugar.

Sugar beet yields this harvest have dropped considerably compared with the record levels seen in the 2017/18 season; overall at the end of this years’ harvest, production will be less than the 1.37 million tonnes of sugar achieved last year.
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
 
In mid-January, (16.01.19) the UK beet industry did increase its estimate for this seasons’ harvest due to higher than first expected sugar contents. The current beet forecast for 2018/19 is 1.15 million tonnes compared with the earlier estimate of 1.05 million tonnes reported in November 2018.

Britain has over 3000 sugar beet growers but often people don’t even realise that there is a sugar beet industry in existence in the UK; people seem to think that all the sugar we use and eat comes from sugar cane grown in hotter climates overseas. However, the beet sugar industry supports over 10,000 jobs within the UK economy, from farmers to road haulers to processors.

There is only one company in the UK which processes beet sugar, thus, sugar beet growers must ensure they get the best possible price. In this current 2018/19 season it was agreed between British Sugar and NFU Sugar that sugar beet growers would receive a minimum price of £22.50/t for the crop. However, it has been announced that the prices will decrease in 2019/20.

“Looking to the financial year 2019/20, a reduction in beet price has been agreed with our farmers and we expect sugar production to be affected by a lower crop area to be planted in spring 2019,” a UK beet industry spokesperson said.

As for 2019/20 crop, no estimate is available for this spring’s sugar beet area, but farmers do face the prospect of growing beet without key neonicotinoid seed treatments after the ban of using them came into effect in 2018. Thus, it has been reported that UK beet sugar output could drop in the coming years as farmers could decide to turn away from beet amid low global sugar prices, on top of the ban on certain pesticides.

“Growers are finding beets are no longer the attractive crop it always was,” said Martin Todd, managing director at LMC International, at the recent International Sugar Organisation’s annual seminar in London.

In the past UK sugar beet harvest figures have gone up and down; in 2016 it was 0.9 million tonnes of sugar, in 2017 the UK produced 1.37 million tonnes. The record crop of 1.45m tonnes was in 2014.

Ragus’ comment:

“World market prices need to increase to around 16 c/lb to attract investment in both the growing and production of sugar. Current world market prices will not attract exports of European beet white sugar, leaving a high stock in Europe until production reduces significantly.”

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Laboratory Testing for Sugar Production

Jan 17 2019

Ragus has over 90 years of experience manufacturing pure sugars and syrups. In fact, as long ago as 1880 our founder Charles Eastick, and his brother John, excited by sugar’s recent rise into ubiquity to British life, began a sugar analysis and consulting practice in the centre of London. Today, our state-of-the-art factory in Berkshire, has the latest advanced instrumentation, allowing Ragus to manufacture both straightforward and customised sugar formulations with a guaranteed supply on time and in full.

Ragus’ highly specialised team manufactures crystalline and syrup pure sugars that enable our customers to create products with consistent colour development, texture softening, flavour enhancement, binding of component ingredients and stability, for precise control to a specific formulation.

Ragus’ consulting service enables custom formulations to be created from the range of sugar products we manufacture. Our commitment to quality means that our sugar chemists follow demanding test procedures during the formulation of customised sugars and syrups made from raw materials that have full traceability.

To ensure we meet our customers’ specifications, all our pure sugar products are manufactured to the highest standards, so bearing this in mind meet Production Chemist Slawek Glowacki, as he explains the importance of Ragus’ state-of-the-art equipped sugar production laboratory.

QU: What is your role as a production chemist in Ragus’ laboratory?

“My role is to check and test all of the different sugars, syrups, molasses and glucose that we handle on site and approve them based on the specifications that they need to adhere to.”

Ragus has a team of sugar consultants working from its lab in the UK. The team provides advice on foodproduction, quality controls and food hygiene to its suppliers. Ragus' close relationship with its suppliers ensures that its customers can be confident that the raw sugar it sources has been grown, harvested, and shipped to its factory to the highest standards of food management.
 
QU: What is the function of an on-site laboratory?

“Our on-site laboratory is needed at our multi-million-pound state-of-the-art facility to test every product that arrives on site, test and monitor the progress of the production of our manufactured products and final check all products that leave our factory”.

QU: What are the sugar samples tested for and what is the importance of each test?

“All of our sugar products must be tested in order to meet their required specifications; for example, the pH balance, to verify the acidity/alkalinity, the colour to provide visual verification through the solution, polarisation to ensure that the product has been inverted correctly to attain the right conversion levels of fructose/glucose and for neutralisation to stop the process of sugar inversion.

We also have to verify the total amount of solids against the product specification which we do so by the BRIX method: this is a relative density scale that indicates the percent of sucrose by weight in a solution measured in degrees Brix (°Bx).”

QU: Ragus’ laboratory is well equipped with sophisticated instruments, but what are the different machines called and what are they used for?

“Yes, the laboratory is very well equipped with the best instruments recommended for testing, producing and carrying out chemical analysis on our sugar products. Our equipment allows us to analyse our samples for pH balances, colour, quality and much more.

For example, we use a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) machine which allows us to separate, identify and quantify each component in a mixture.

We have refractometers (used for the BRIX testing) which are used to determine the index of refraction of liquid samples, and to measure fluid concentrations, such as sugar content. Polarimeters are also used in the laboratory for determining the different sugars in our syrups.”
Ragus has a team of sugar consultants working from its lab in the UK. The team provides advice on foodproduction, quality controls and food hygiene to its suppliers. Ragus' close relationship with its suppliers ensures that its customers can be confident that the raw sugar it sources has been grown, harvested, and shipped to its factory to the highest standards of food management.
 
QU: What could be the ramifications if Ragus did not test every production batch produced?

“Ragus could not and would not put our brand name against any product that is not thoroughly tested; if a product does not conform to our specifications then we would not verify it or release it.”

QU: Why does Ragus keeps every sugar or syrup sample for 18 months?

“All final product samples of both sugar and syrup that are manufactured at our facility must be kept for 18 months because on most products we give this as the best before date. We also have to keep our samples in the event that we ever get a complaint that a product has a fault, this way we are able to carry out further analysis.”

QU: What are the ICUMSA methods and do we adhere by their testing procedures? (The International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis)

“ICUMSA is the global body which brings together the activities of the National Committees for Sugar Analysis in more than 30-member countries.

The ICUMSA sugar colour grading system offers an easy way of categorising sugars; the ICUMSA developed a colorimetric method of measurement allowing producers to quickly and simply categorise their products in accordance with world-wide guidelines.

As Ragus are specialists in high quality natural pure sugars we use the ICUMSA specifications for both moisture analysis and colour analysis in all of our crystalline and syrup products.”

QU: What is EBC analysis and why do breweries use EBC testing for their colour standards and not ICUMSA?

“EBC (European Brewing Convention) is a special scale used to indicate colour in malts and sugars; the colour of beer can range from very lights to dark brown or black. Brewing industries prefer to use the EBC when colour grading their products because it is a much quicker process of colour verification than the ICUMSA method.”

Thanks, Slawek for giving a detailed insight of Ragus’ sugar technology laboratory.

Ragus Facts:
We only deliver products and services of the highest quality and have gained a range of accreditations to demonstrate this fundamental commitment.

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EU Sugar Beet Production – What does the future hold?

Jan 09 2019

The EU is the world’s leading producer of sugar beet, with approximately 50% of the global production; almost 18 million tonnes of beet sugar are produced every year in the Union. The sugar beet industry plays a critical part in the European rural and agricultural economy, but recently sugar beet producers have been suffering from low market prices and a series of changes in the sector.

The International Sugar Organisation has recently forecast the EU will produce 17.9-million tons of sugar in the 2018/2019 season, down from 19.7-million in the previous season. The intergovernmental body has not yet released a forecast for 2019/2020.

In October 2017, the EU scrapped sugar beet production quotas allowing producers to grow as much beet as they wanted for the first time since 2006, which lead to an increase in output. However, this current global glut of sugar has pushed world sugar prices to their lowest in more than ten years, throwing the European sector into crisis.

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
 
Thus today, the sugar beet sector is far from healthy. As the International federation of European Beet Growers explains, “the end of sugar beet quotas, combined with a depressed world market, have generated prices that are at their lowest level since the establishment of the European Commission Price Reporting System almost twelve years ago.”

The European commission has further said it expected total sugar consumption in the EU will reduce by five percent by 2030. Contributing factors to the decline include the ban of certain pesticides, the fact that Europeans are reducing their direct sugar intake, the global surplus of sugar stocks and environmental and unpredictable weather conditions.

Sugar lobbyist Ribera said it is “very difficult to predict” what will happen in coming years, but as the outlook for the European sugar sector is not particularly pleasing at the moment, measures need to be taken by farmers, processors and other major stakeholders to ensure the EU sugar beet industry can continue competing in the global market.

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 European Parliament needs to take many factors into consideration to maintain sustainable beet growing amongst the EU Member States. These could include offering realistic subsidiaries to sugar beet farmers to ensure income stability, unfair trading practices need to be banned, financial support and time for researching new ways to protect crops, in light of the ban on certain pesticides, and to limit the amount of subsidised sugar other countries are dumping on the world market.

All this said though there will always be a demand for sugar beet as man’s demand for sweet foods is universal, and whatever people’s views are about sugar, it is still a vital ingredient in the food and drink industries. Sugar is not just a sweetener, it adds bulk, texture, and preserving qualities to many food products, such as jams, cakes, confectionery, and biscuits, which is impossible using artificial sweeteners.

Ragus Facts:
Ragus’ scour the globe for the best and most sustainable sources of beet and pure cane sugar for the manufacturing a wide range of sugars products. Our raw materials are soured from certified suppliers. Our Cane sugar comes from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and our Beet sugar from within the European Union.

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How Caramel is Made – Caramel as a Sweet Confectionery [Part 2 of 2]

Jan 03 2019

Most people’s preconception of caramel is the little sweet, brown, slightly chewy, soft cubes of deliciousness that melt in your mouth when eaten, however caramel can also be used in chocolate or candy bars or as a topping for popcorn!

Caramel dates back to the 7th century and is one of the oldest confectioneries; sugar cane was discovered by the Arabs in Persia and on heating the cane they obtained a dark brown liquid which they called ‘Kurat Al Milh’ (ball of sugar) and the name ‘caramel’ derived from this!

Chefs, entrepreneurs and food manufacturers are coming up with new ways to incorporate caramel in their recipes because of its unique characteristics; from its appetising appearance and its tantalising aroma to its delicious smooth and sensual flavour, caramel and salted caramel flavours have become one of the most recent food trends.

Caramel as a Confectionery
To create a caramel as a type of confectionery, the amount of butter, type of milk and type of sugar can create differences in flavour, while varying cooking temperatures can affect the firmness; thus, creating caramels with various tastes, textures and appearances.

To create a variety of textures, caramel manufacturers use two different terms to categorise the product; ‘short’ is used for caramels that are soft and moist, and ‘long’, for a caramel that is chewy with a firmer consistency.

Unlike other candies, caramel is cooked at a lower temperature and as they contain more moisture they are softer; thus because of its texture caramel can be moulded and added to other ingredients (i.e. chocolate bars), or it can act as a binding agent or to add flavour and texture to products.

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

How is Caramel for Confectionery Made?
The ingredients for making caramel is sugar, invert/glucose syrup, milk (or cream) and butter, all of which are added together and cooked at 245°F. The brown colour is a result of the reaction between the protein in the cream/milk and the sugar; this process is called the Maillard reaction, which is named after the French scientist who discovered it.

The Maillard reaction occurs when part of the sugar molecule reacts with the nitrogen part of the protein molecule; this leads to the brown colour and the flavour compounds. If the mixture is cooked even further up to 338° F, it essentially become toffee, also known as caramelisation.

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
 
Ragus’s Key Ingredients for Caramel Confectionery
Ragus supplies invert/glucose syrups and brown sugars as ingredients to food and drink industries that can be used in the production of caramel as a confectionery.

Ragus’ Soft Brown Light Sugar or Dark Soft Brown Sugar is the perfect product for making your caramel and toffee creations, not only do they add colour, their finer grain size rapidly dissolves for sauce and toffee preparations and the molasses content adds flavour.

Ragus’ Invert sugars are used not only as a humectant to retain and preserve the moisture and as a flavour attractant, but they also have a high sweetness value.

To see our extensive range of pure sugars and syrups and to order your ingredients, check out our new online tool, our Product Finder, where you can filter through 50 different products: http://ragus.co.uk/product-finder/

If you fancy making your own salted caramel, then Ragus has the perfect recipe using our very own golden syrup and Soft Brown Light Sugar.

RAGUS’ SALTED CARAMEL

YOU WILL NEED
30g Unsalted Butter

100g Ragus Soft Brown Light Sugar

50g Ragus Golden Syrup

150ml Double Cream

Pinch of Sea Salt

METHOD
1. Melt butter, Ragus Soft Brown Light Sugar and Ragus Golden Syrup in a small heavy based pan. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.

2. Add cream and a pinch of sea salt and simmer for 2 mins until thickened and smooth. Cool slightly, taste the sauce, add any extra salt.

Serve warm with ice cream and enjoy!

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

Ragus Fun Facts:

We’re specialists in high quality natural pure sugars and pure syrups, from raw cane sugar to specialist glucose-sugar blends.

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