Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
The importance of investing in Fairtrade and organic sugar
At Ragus, we’re proud to hold several accreditations that underline our commitment to sustainable activity and our dedication to manufacturing pure sugar products of the highest quality.
Two of our accreditors are The Fairtrade Foundation and The Organic Food Federation. Most of us understand that choosing Fairtrade and organic products is beneficial, even if the details and exact requirements is less known. So what exactly do these commitments mean for sugar, and why is it so important that the industry is aware of them?
What’s the difference between Fairtrade and organic?
Fairtrade and organic accreditations are subject to different requirements, though they are based on the same values of sustainability, fairness, and shared responsibility.
As the name suggests, Fairtrade initiatives are dedicated to ensuring that the trade between companies and individuals worldwide is based on fairness, and guarantees producers earn secure and sustainable livelihoods. The Fairtrade certification aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product. This means workers’ rights are protected, working conditions are safe, and fair-pay guarantees are established. For consumers, Fairtrade ensures products are high quality and ethically produced. The implementation of Fairtrade relies on the collaboration of governments, businesses, and farming co-operatives, with social, economic, and environmental standards set for all those involved in the supply chain.
Fairtrade is a global movement, with several national and international federations dedicated to promoting it. In the UK, the most well-known is The Fairtrade Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation who are responsible for licensing the FAIRTRADE mark in the UK. They also work to grow demand for Fairtrade products, support organisations in finding Fairtrade networks, and raise public awareness of the importance and positive impact of making trade fair.
Organic foods are those produced sustainably and without harming the environment. It promotes prioritising wildlife and biodiversity and avoiding the use of genetic modifications during farming. Organic produce is traceable from the farm, all along the production process until it reaches the consumer. At every stage of its journey, it is inspected and certified to ensure it is produced according to guidelines.
One of the UK’s leading certification bodies is The Organic Food Federation, which was first established in 1986. The organisation offer certification, carry out audits, and operate inspections. They are at the forefront of promoting organic methods and maintain best practice within the food sector
How does Fairtrade and organic certification impact the sugar industry?
Ragus imports sugar beet and sugar cane from all over the world, including from within the UK. However, it is much easier to monitor the supply chain when it is in the same country than it is to oversee activity from the other side of the globe, which is one of the reasons why Fairtrade and organic initiatives are so important.
As Ragus is a major cane sugar importer, some of our suppliers are based in locations where labour laws and sustainability commitments are not as strict as the UK. By joining the network of organisations seeking to protect these rights and pledges, the chance of securing a better deal for farmers and workers is much higher.
In an industry as vast and complex as the global sugar trade, it is little surprise that small-scale farmers can become lost within the network and have almost no say on key trade decisions. As a result, small-hold cane farmers often receive a price for their crop that fails to cover growing costs, and the knock-on effect of this can be devastating for the entire community. The Fairtrade certification helps sugar cane farmers gain access to business education so they can grow their reach and engage with international markets. Currently, nearly 37,000 small-scale cane farmers have benefited from Fairtrade certification.
It’s also important for organisations to ensure their products have been produced in accordance with organic standards to contribute to protecting the environment. For cane and beet sugar to be organic, they must be grown and processed without the use of harmful pesticides, fertilisers, or other synthetic chemicals that could cause damage to the ecosystem. Farmers and manufactures must conform to practices that protect the soil and water resources, while conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.
Ragus’ commitment to sustainable sourcing
Our commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) underpins the Ragus brand, and supply chain management is a large part of that. Our approach to ethical sourcing and traceability reflects over ninety years of heritage as an independent importer of natural beet sugar, cane sugar and cane molasses. With food origin so important to consumers, we use technology to follow all our sugar, from the mill or refinery through the delivery chain to our factory and onwards into every sugar, syrup, or specialist sugar formulation that we manufacture. This complete audit trail allows our customers to trace their Ragus sugar ingredients from field to final formulation, as well as ensuring individuals involved at every stage of the supply chain are being treated well and paid fairly for their work.
We are proud to maintain that several of Ragus’s products have been accredited with the Fairtrade Mark and Organic Food Federation Certificate. The Fairtrade Mark is an independent, trusted and widely recognised product certification that reinforces the message that Fairtrade producers have received Fairtrade terms when selling their products. Equally, the use of the Organic Food Federation logo certifies that our organisation’s qualifying products are fully compliant with organic regulations, made with raw materials grown according to organic principles and free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours.
These are just two of the many organisations that Ragus are accredited by, and which demonstrate our commitment to quality assurance and maintaining ethical standards.
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.