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Organic sugar

23/05/2024 By Ibrahim Belo in Products

Organic sugar is any sugar product that has been made from organically grown sugarcane or sugar beet. Higher consumer demand for organic products is making it more important for food and beverage producers to work with sugar manufacturers and suppliers that source raw materials from organic farmers and demonstrate a commitment to organic beet and sugarcane cultivation.   

Here, we explain what organic sugar is, if or how it varies from non-organic sugar, its applications in the food and beverage industry, and how to store it.

Three tractors working in a field

In organic farming, pesticides are not used, and the focus is on soil health and protecting the environment.

What is organic sugar?

Organic sugar is any sugar that is derived from either organically grown sugarcane or sugar beet. The term ‘organic’ refers to organic farming, as opposed to conventional farming, and not the manufacturing process. However, organic sugar must remain separate from conventional sugar during the manufacturing process.

Rows of green crops in a crop field, with blue sky overhead and trees in background

For sugar to be sold as an organic product, it must meet certain regulations and be certified by an approved certification body.

Organic farming involves the cultivation of crops without synthetic pesticides and the focus is on growing crops in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. With organic farming, the preservation of wildlife habitats and natural ecosystems alongside biodiversity and soil health are all prioritised over genetic engineering.

For sugar to be certified organic, its organic story must be traceable from the farm to the end consumer. As part of this, organic sugar must meet certain regulations for it to be classified as, and sold as, an organic product.

Organic vs. non-organic sugar: debunking a few misconceptions

The main difference between organic sugar and non-organic sugar is that the former is produced from organically farmed sugarcane or beet, and the latter is not. Organic sugar is not more nutritionally beneficial than non-organic sugar. Whether a sugar product is organic or not has nothing to do with its colour, texture or to what extent it is a refined product.

A man and a woman inspecting products in a store

There is increasing demand from consumers for organic products.

Given increasing consumer demand globally for organic, sustainable and clean-label products, food and beverage producers will want to embrace the organic market. By doing so, food and beverage producers can appeal to environmentally aware consumers who want to know the products they buy have organic credentials. Find out more about the importance of investing in organic sugar.

Consumers may presume that ‘Fairtrade’ sugar equates to organic sugar, but this is not the case. Fairtrade practices are focused on ensuring workers’ rights are protected, working conditions are safeguarded and ethical and fair practices are followed. However, there is a degree of overlap with regards the values of sustainability and shared responsibility.  

Organic sugar regulations

Any product labelled as organic must be certified by an approved certification body. Around the world, there are different regulations governing organic sugar production, and these regulations concern how the sugarcane or sugar beet is grown. Sugar manufacturers must satisfy all relevant organic certification bodies that their production processes meet regulatory requirements.

Product being poured from a large white sack into a receptacle in a factory

The Organic Food Federation certifies organic products in the UK.

Organic farming principles are consistent globally, with some variations. In the UK, the largest certification body is the Soil Association. This is a registered charity and organic certifier. The Soil Association defines organic farming as the practice of producing food using natural substances and processes.  The Organic Food Federation, which certifies organic products in the UK, helps promote and maintain standards within the organic food sector. The Federation supports manufacturers to comply with the production, processing, warehousing, storage, trading, distribution and import of organic produce.

As consumers increasingly prioritise purchasing foods and beverages that are organically produced, organic certification and labelling is important to build consumer trust in a product and drive market demand.

Types of organic sugar

Any sugar product can be classified as organic if it has been produced using organic farming practices and processes. This is true for sugars derived from both sugar beet and sugarcane.  

At Ragus, we manufacture a range of specialist crystalline sugars and syrups, and each product meets all relevant quality assurance and ethical standards. This includes being certified by the Organic Food Federation.

The organic sugar production process

While beet and cane sugars have different journeys from field to crystal and syrup, organic sugar products are processed and refined in the same way as non-organic sugar products. The only difference is that organic certification bodies stipulate that organic sugar products must be produced and stored separately from non-organic sugar products.

Organic sugar applications

Organic sugar applications do not differ from non-organic sugar applications as there is no real difference in taste, texture, colour or functional properties. Manufacturers will want to source the right sugar product for their specific application needs, whether this be a liquid like golden syrup or a crystalline like demerara sugar.

A brown, runny liquid running from a stainless steel pipe or funnel (left), golden-brown sugar grains (right)

Left: Golden syrup is an amber coloured, viscous and intensely sweet pure sugar syrup that is mainly used as a functional ingredient in baking. It is also used as a topping for desserts and breakfasts. The product was first formulated by Ragus’ founder, the chemist Charles Eastick, in 1883.
Right: Demerara is an amber-coloured crystalline sugar.

Organic sugar storage

The storage recommendations for organic sugar are the same as those for non-organic sugar. Storage recommendations for sugar products are product specific. Each type of sugar has specific storage requirements, whether it is organic or non-organic. However, organic sugars must be manufactured, stored and distributed separately from non-organic sugars.

At Ragus, we provide guidance on storage best practice for the sugar products we supply. For example, black treacle has a crystallisation and microbiological shelf life of 18 months if it is stored at 15°C to 20°C. Meanwhile, invert sugar syrup should be stored at the same temperature, but it has a shorter shelf life of between four and 12 months depending on whether it is a full invert sugar syrup or a partial invert sugar syrup.

Ragus manufactures a range of crystalline sugars and syrups that are certified organic for use in industrial applications, and we supply bulk organic sugar. To learn more, contact our Customer Services Team. For more sugar news and updates, continue browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn.   

Ibrahim Belo

With a primary responsibility for manufactured product quality control, Ibrahim works within our supplier chain, factory and production laboratory. He has a focus on continuous improvement, implementing and maintaining our technical and quality monitoring processes, ensuring standards and product specifications are met.

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