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The value of Bonsucro certification and traceability for food and beverage brands

07/12/2023 By Henry Eastick in Responsibility

Bonsucro is a sustainability standard for sugarcane globally. Its purpose is to support and safeguard the sustainable production and use of sugarcane. It does this through its standards that ensure a sustainable supply chain and the traceability of products. Through traceability and compliance with traceability rules food and beverage brands have visibility over the entire supply chain, making it easier to identify and recall products, mitigate health and safety risks to consumers and prevent reputational damage.

In this blog, we introduce Bonsucro in more detail and explore:

* the benefits of Bonsucro membership and certification

* the benefits of using Bonsucro-certified sugar for food and beverage brands

* and their consumers.

Membership logo for global sugarcane platform Bonsucro

Ragus has been a member of Bonsucro since August 2011.

What is Bonsucro?

Bonsucro is a non-profit organisation that aims to reduce the social and environmental impact of sugarcane production and drive higher sustainability standards for sugarcane production globally. Bonsucro works with farmers, millers, traders, consumers and governments to strengthen the sustainable production and use of sugarcane products across the supply chain while supporting economic sustainability.

Bonsucro has outlined its strategic five-year plan, which runs from 2021-2026. This plan reasserts Bonsucro’s commitment to sustainable sugarcane production and outlines its goals, principles, objectives and priorities against the challenges of the global context.   The organisation’s objectives span workers’ rights, improving soil health and biodiversity, reducing emissions in the sugarcane sector and unlocking value in the sugarcane supply chain.

Line of eight men in a sugarcane field posing for camera

Ragus’ Ben Eastick (extreme left) visits supply chain partners and sugarcane farmers in India.

The benefits of Bonsucro membership and certification

Bonsucro is also a membership organisation, representing the interests of a broad range of stakeholders within the sugarcane industry that have some degree of focus on sustainability, from farmers to traders to end user food and beverage brands and their consumers. It has members in the top ten countries for sugarcane production, and membership currently extends to over 300 members across 55 countries.

World map in background with details of Bonsucro membership numbers across countries in foreground

Bonsucro’s membership spans the sugarcane value chain, from farmers and mills right through to consumer facing food and beverage brands.

Membership is relevant to any entity that has interests in the sugarcane industry. As a leading supplier of sugarcane-based pure sugar products, Ragus has been a member of Bonsucro since August 2011. Through membership, producers, brands and organisations benefit from collaboration, enhanced credibility, and access to tools, training expertise and insights data that can help transform the industry and set it on a path to a sustainable future. Members must adhere to Bonsucro’s Code of Conduct.

Bonsucro certification benefits its members in that a Bonsucro certificate is recognised and respected globally. For food and beverage brands, a Bonsucro certificate on a product demonstrates that brand’s commitment to sustainable sugarcane production and its support for traceability and transparency in the value chain – something which is increasingly demanded by consumers, markets and regulators. It is also shows the consumer that the brand is dedicated to sustainable and transparent practices.

Workers in a packing factory with piles of white sacks in background

Bonsucro certification requires implementing the Production Standard, requiring those seeking certification to assess and if necessary, update practices and processes.

Traceability is vital for food and beverage brands to meet ethical, compliance and safety standards. In the sugarcane industry, traceability starts at sourcing and runs throughout manufacturing, processing and distribution. Consumers want to know how ingredients like sugar are sourced, and unethical sourcing may result in the sugar manufacturer losing customers and consumers.

Through Bonsucro membership and certification, food and beverage brands can both ensure traceability across their supply chains and show proof of their sustainable credentials. There are two standards for certification:

1. Production Standard – this enables sugarcane mill owners and farmers to achieve certain environmental and social objectives and prove to buyers they operate sustainably.

2. Chain of Custody Standard – this applies to sugarcane sourcing and trading. It allows manufacturers to prove to buyers and sellers that sustainability sourcing targets are being met.

Bonsucro also hosts a Credit Training Platform. This links producers with buyers and allows businesses to buy and sell Bonsucro Credits. These credits serve as proof of sustainable production and the proceeds are rewarded to certified mills and farms for their sustainability efforts.

The Bonsucro Production Standard

The Bonsucro Production Standard is a metric standard for sugarcane that applies globally. A metric tool, it can be used by mill owners and farmers to legitimately describe their practices as sustainable and provides them with a means of proving it to buyers. When buyers source sugarcane, they have this assurance.

Ragus worker wearing hard white hat taking a product sample from a tube into a conical flask

Ragus implements quality measures throughout its supply chain. Our quality manager checks imported bulk raw molasses at Portbury Docks, UK.

Bonsucro’s impact on the sugarcane industry

Bonsucro has already had a positive, wide-ranging impact on the sugarcane industry, and through the work of its members. For example, 145 sugarcane mills are now certified, and this number continues to grow. Of those mills, 71% produce enough energy to feed it back into the grid, while a significant percentage have also reduced water consumption.

Over 32,000 seasonal workers within the sugarcane industry are now paid at least the minimum wage. You can find out more about the impact of Bonsucro and its members here. Progress has also been made to reduce water use generally and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of chemicals and fertilisers.

Ragus female worker wearing dark blue cap pressing a button on a machine and holding a clipboard

Pure sugar manufacturing processes and practices are precisely monitored at Ragus’ factory in Slough, west of London.

In summary, Bonsucro membership and certification provides sugarcane industry stakeholders with what they need to achieve and demonstrate sustainable practices and prove to buyers, sellers and consumers that these practices are adhered to.

As well as being able to stand by any sustainability claims, Bonsucro membership and certification supports product traceability throughout the sugarcane supply chain. This is essential for both food and beverage brands and consumers, as the need for declaring and proving traceable, transparent and sustainable practices grows in importance.

Ragus supplies bulk sugars to industrial food and beverage producers to enhance product tastes, textures and appearance. To learn more about our pure sugar products, contact our Customer Services Team. You can find our full range of memberships and certifications on our responsibility page. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, keep browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn. 

Henry Eastick

Joining Ragus in 2017, Henry is the fifth generation of the Eastick family to work in the business. He has worked across our company, implementing plant and technology improvements in the factory to working in the lab developing a knowledge for our products. He focuses on our raw materials procurement as well as leading our digital transformation, adapting new technology and plant to meet our needs. His deep interest in nature and sustainability makes him a dedicated and passionate CSR manager.

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