What’s Going on in the Sugar Industry?
Andrea Pluck, of Kennedy’s Confection chats to Ben Eastick, Director at Ragus, a leading supplier in the production of brown sugars, syrups and treacles, to get his views on the future of sugar
So, tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into sugar…
Ben: The Eastick family have been in the sugar industry since 1880, so quite a long time. The two brothers, John and Charles Eastick ran an analytical research laboratory in London and at the time there were over 300 sugar refineries in the UK alone. A lot of them where attached to breweries. But, two years on, in 1882, they were invited by Abram Lyle to set up a lab at his new refinery, and a year later in 1883 Charles formulated the recipe for Lyle’s Golden Syrup. So, the family has worked in the sugars quite a long time. I started out in the brewing industry working for W. H. Brakspear & Sons PLC in 1988, before joining Ragus full time in 1991.
Tell me a bit about Ragus?
Ben: In a snapshot, two brothers left Lyles in 1889, John went to start Australia’s largest sugar refinery, Bundaberg and the younger brother Charles, went onto Martineau’s which was then the UK’s second largest white sugar producer. He then spotted a market for speciality sugars for the bakery, brewery and confectionery markets and started in 1928 a factory on the then new Slough Trading Estate, that made inverted syrups, hence the name Ragus, which is sugar spelt backwards.
We were a fairly small company at that stage and only produced inverted syrups. In 1961 Martineaus were brought out by Manbré & Garton (and subsequently Tate & Lyle in 1976) – and at that point the family owned half of the Martineaus business. Ragus started producing brown sugars in the seventies and became the last independent sugar manufacturer in the UK, a position we still hold today. We remained under the radar up until the 1990s. That was when sugar reforms gave us the chance to get bigger and have since then, grown and grown.
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