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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