Why should sugar be sourced ethically?

Aug 01 2019

Sugar production begins with sourcing. At Ragus our 90-year history as an independent importer of sugar underpins our approach to product traceability and ethical sourcing of beet and cane sugar.

Where does Ragus source its sugar?

Although both can be used to produce a whole range of sugar products, sugar cane and sugar beet require much different growing conditions. Sugar cane is a tropical plant, meaning it thrives in hot sunny places like India, Cuba and the West Indies. Sugar beet, on the other hand, prefers more temperate climates, and as such is grown in areas such as Europe, China and Canada.

For Ragus Sugars, this means keeping track of a range of suppliers situated across the globe to ensure all our raw materials maintain an ethical and exploitation-free provenance. In order to achieve this, we first assess all available suppliers in sugar-growing territories, selecting the most suitable for our requirements both now and in the future. After this, we then visit the chosen plantation, mill or refinery.

Ragus audits current and potential raw ingredient suppliers

Once onsite we assess the potential supplier to ensure they meet the high standards and responsibility values that define operations at Ragus. As well as visiting suppliers, we also use technology to follow our sugar from plantation or field through the entire delivery chain into every syrup, crystalline or special sugar formulation produced at our factory.

Why does Ragus audit its sugar suppliers?

Where our food and its constituent ingredients originate from is more important to suppliers and consumers now than it ever has been before. At Ragus Sugars, part of our knowledge transfer strategy involves carrying out audits of potential and current suppliers to guarantee that not only is the sugar of a high standard but that all players in the supply chain are paid and treated fairly. The aim of these visits and partnerships is to promote and safeguard human rights and environmentally and socially sustainable supplier business.

Onsite filming for the new Ragus sourcing video

Recently, we spent time visiting and auditing a particular raw material supplier, producing a new Ragus Sugars sourcing video in the process. This will be available on our website and YouTube channel, with photos shared on social media in the lead up to its release.

To learn more about our commitment to ethical sourcing and the standards and accreditations we hold visit our responsibility section of the website.

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Sugar accreditations: another level of quality

Jun 28 2019

Having a high-quality sugar product is one thing – ensuring it is certified by some of the world’s leading bodies is what elevates sugar to another level. 

What are sugar accreditations?

As one of the most ubiquitous foodstuffs in the world, sugar comes under extreme quality control scrutiny to ensure that the global supply is safe for consumption and exactly as advertised. Accreditations take this process one step further, allowing sugar products to be certified against the unique and rigorous standards of a range of industry-specific bodies. Put simply, this is the difference between an ordinary bar of a chocolate and a certified bar.

The importance of these is the instant information they provide a potential buyer or end consumer. At a glance, they can quickly ascertain the merits of a sugar product, both in terms of the quality it offers an end product and the way it was sourced or produced. In theory, this could prove to be the difference between a sale and a buyer choosing another sugar product.

As such, Ragus Sugars’ proudly holds several accreditations. Although quality control is the second of our 10 corporate social responsibility (CSR) pillars, we believe having products that are further tested against these industry-specific standards is the best way to ensure our clients receive premium sugar products every time they order. Below are some examples of the accreditations we hold and their importance to our products.


The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is the world’s most recognised standard-setting body. Its ISO 9000 family of quality management systems ensure that organisations across the globe meet the statutory and regulatory requirements that customers and stakeholders demand. Through Quality Assurance Systems Ltd. Ragus Sugars is certified to have documented evidence showing adherence to ISO 9000, ISO 9000:2000, and ISO 14000.

British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCG)

The BRCG is a leading brand and consumer protection organisation used by over 28,000 suppliers across 130 countries that is primarily designed to deliver confidence in supply chains. Ragus Sugars holds BRGC certification in Food, Packaging, Consumer Products and Storage & Distribution, providing assurance to our customers that all aspects of our operations are of the highest safety and legal quality.


Ragus Sugars is a member of Bonsucro, an internationally recognised not for-profit organisation whose primary mission is reduce the environmental and social impacts of sugarcane production.  This is achieved through its leading metric-based certification system and continuous support for all actors in the sugar supply chain. More on Bonsucro’s work can be found in our blog.

European Brewing Convention (EBC)

All our sugar products for the brewing industry adhere to the standards set out by the EBC. The EBC uses a special scale based on sugar and malts to grade the colour of a product. To determine this, a sample is taken and placed in a spectrophotometer, allowing the percentage of sugar to be analysed. From here, when the percentage of sugar is higher, the malt or sugar is darker.

Fairtrade Foundation

The Fairtrade Foundation is a global movement designed to ensure farmers and producers are paid fairly for their work. The core Fairtrade mark is a registered certification label that shows products adhere to the Fairtrade Standards. At Ragus Sugars, we are proud to offer several products that bear this mark.

Organic Food Federation

Companies that produce certified organic products and are registered with the Organic Food Federation can use the OFF symbol on relevant products. The use of this symbol on several of our products means they are fully compliant with the organic regulations. For Ragus Sugars this means the raw product sourced must be grown without the use of pesticides or genetic modification.

Sugar Mark

Being able to use the Sugarmark symbol means we adhere to the internal quality criteria ‘Codex Alimentarius’ which was set up by the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. It is the global symbol of naturally grown sugar used by growers and producers and promotes the cause of good food for everyone, everywhere.

International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA)

All our sugar from crystalline to syrup is tested against the ICUMSA scale which measures colour and moisture. The ICUMSA is a global body that brings together the activities of 20 member states from the National Committees for Sugar Analysis. This method of sugar grading by colour provides an easy way for producers to categorise sugars in line with globally recognised guidelines.

Having seen the accreditations we hold, visit our product finder for your next sugar product.

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Specialist sugars in medicated confectionary and cough syrups

Jun 18 2019

Sugar has been a staple in over-the-counter remedies for centuries. This week, we look at what different sugar products can help the medicine go down.

What is medicated confectionary?

Medicated confectionary is a medicinal product used to treat very minor ailments that take the form of a traditional piece of confectionary. Typically, this a hard-boiled sweet, lozenge or gum containing a formulation of medicine, sweetening agents and often vitamins or minerals that is used to alleviate the symptoms of coughs, colds and sore throats. As a result, medicated confectionary usually experiences a spike in popularity during the winter months.

In addition, their relative ease of access and ability to provide often instant relief make these products highly popular, so much so that Mordor Intelligence expects the global market to be worth $7.5 billion by 2023. As is the case with most pharmaceutical products (explored in more detail in a recent blog ), sugar plays a vital role in these products, both for taste and functional reasons.

Why is sugar used in cough syrups and medicated confectionary?

For medicated confectionary such as lozenges, glucose syrups aid in binding and solidifying the product, allowing the slow release of minerals and medicine to ease congestion, or sooth an irritated throat. Using glucose syrup, a liquid, reduces the risk of potentially damaging crystallisation and helps to ensure the right mouthfeel and texture of the final product.


Treacle improves the mouthfeel of cough syrups

Sugar also finds a home in nearly all cough syrups, however its role in these products differs. Cough syrups have a variety of ingredients and formulas, but most contain vitamins and different medicines to help ease throat irritations, coughs and colds. Without a sweetening agent these are often bitter and not particularly easy to swallow. The use of treacle which contains molasses masks the bitter flavours, as well as improving the mouthfeel and viscosity of the cough syrup and adding colour.

The molasses content in treacle is beneficial in the formulation of cough syrups as it contains a high level of trace minerals such as iron and calcium. Interestingly, due to the colour of cane sugar leaves, molasses can give the syrup a green tint. As a result, very small quantities of caramel can be used to improve colour to give it the red hue we often see. To extend the shelf life of a syrup, sugar glucose is best used as it can be stored for long periods of time.

What is the benefit of using Ragus Pure Sugars’ products?

As treacle, sugar glucose and caramel are all liquid solutions, the production of both cough mixture and medicated confectionary is made more energy efficient and economical. Unlike using crystalline, the sugar does not need to be dissolved into a liquid and then cooled. Using a liquid sugar product also reduces the manual handling required and no packaging handling therefore also reducing labour costs.

At Ragus Pure Sugars each syrup produced is tested to the highest standards in our state-of-the-art factory to ensure quality and consistency across all products to help you produce uniform products. We offer a range of products to suit different applications and offer consultations to talk through your requirements to help find a sugar that meets your needs.

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Granular detail: Liquid Sugar

Jun 14 2019

Liquid sugar is present in the food and drinks we consume daily. In this week’s blog we explain what it is, where it can be used and how it should be stored.

What is liquid sugar and what products can it be used in?
Liquid sugar is a water-based sucrose solution made from white refined sugar or natural raw cane sugar and water. Classed as a syrup, it has a dry substance content of 66%. The applications of liquid sugar can vary from mouthfeel, the physical sensation caused by a product in the mouth, to more traditional roles such as sweetening.

Due to its highly adaptable nature, liquid sugar is used in a variety of products. Its liquid form means it is ideally suited to soft drinks, with this property also meaning it is easy to manage and handle. Moreover, as the sucrose is a fluid, it automates some of the production process for beverages, resulting in a quicker manufacturing process compared to using crystalline sugar.

Alongside this, liquid sugar can also easily and effectively add bulk to a diverse range of foodstuffs. These include dairy products, ice cream, and confectionery products such as toffee. Liquid sugars can also be used to aid initial fermentation in beer and cider, and then be used to prime them for secondary fermentation in the cask or bottle and it can be used to coat cereal bars.

Liquid sugar has a wide range of applications, from the production of toffee to aiding initial beer and cider fermentation

What are the benefits of using Ragus Pure Sugars’ liquid sugar?
When producing a product such as a soft drink, or even toffee, the process needs to be as streamlined as possible in order to reduce production time while still ensuring a consistent end result. Using liquid sugar, compared to a crystalline, speeds up production as the sugar is already in a solution, meaning it requires less manual handling and no packaging handling, thus reducing energy and labour costs. The other benefit of using liquid sugar is it helps ensure that every single batch is constantly the same, reducing the potential for contamination in the product process.

At Ragus’ Pure Sugars, every syrup we produce in our state-of-the-art factory is rigorously tested throughout the production process to ensure consistency and quality. From liquid sugar to invert, every treacle and syrup that is delivered is quality checked to help you produce consistent quality products.

What liquid sugar products do Ragus Pure Sugars produce?
Ragus Pure Sugars offer a range of sugar products, from liquid cane sugar and liquid refined sugar to custom formulations that meet organic and Fairtrade standards. To discover which of these is ideally suited to your application, use our product finder, the ideal tool for ensuring your end product is perfect every time.

Following this, we then offer a consultation with our customers to help you find the right sugar for your application and work with you to produce the sugar product that meets your needs.

For further information contact our sales team on the details below.

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How is sugar used in the pharmaceutical industry?

Jun 12 2019

From bulking agents to grain sizes – we’ve come a long way from just a “spoonful of sugar”

What is an excipient?

An excipient is an inactive substance that acts as the dosage vehicle for an active drug. In the pharmaceutical industry, sugar often occupies this role, performing functions ranging from adding bulk and consistency to tablets, to making unpleasant tasting medicines palatable. The sugar used for this is usually either pharma grade sucrose or invert sugar syrup.

Alongside taste and texture, sugar is also used as a pharmaceutical excipient in tablets and capsules to assist with appearance and ease of transport and storage. Once sugar-coated, a tablet is protected from the damaging effects of air and moisture, is easier to swallow due to an improved flavour, and, once combined with colouring agents, is quickly identifiable. Recent trends have seen traditional sucrose replaced by synthetic polymers, but, as explained in a previous blog, these can never truly replicate the natural humectant properties of sugar.

Such decisions reflect a wider global reluctance among consumers to medicate themselves with products containing natural sugars. For this to have permeated to the pharmaceutical industry is telling, given that sugar’s role within this sector is functional and it is always inert whenever present. Once this trend has passed, we can expect to see sugar regain its place as the go-to-choice as an excipient in the pharmaceutical industry.

Although an inactive ingredient, sugar is crucial to the medicines consumed by millions across the world

What is pharma grade invert sugar syrup?

While pharmaceutical applications that traditionally favoured sucrose are turning to alternatives, the demand for pharma grade invert sugar syrup is higher than ever. Primarily used to counteract the unpleasant taste of the active ingredients in some medicines, pharma grade invert sugar syrup can also add viscosity to a product and act as a diluent, meaning it adds bulk. In addition, the sugar also provides a quick hit of energy, particularly useful in cold and flu medications, and helps to extend the shelf life of the products as well as improve the taste

India has been a key driver behind this recent spike in the demand for pharma grade invert sugar syrup. A growing middle class has led to increased awareness of and demand for medical treatment, forcing drug manufacturers to turn to external sugar vendors to keep up with consumer requirements. As a result, several new bulk industrial sugar manufacturing facilities have sprung up across India, with this still only going part way to fully satisfying the demand.

At Ragus Pure Sugars, our range of full and partial pharma grade invert sugar syrups are the product of decades of experience and expertise. Such precision, care and insistence on quality is crucial when producing any sugar product, with this being heightened when that product is destined for use in the pharmaceutical industry. A full explanation of what goes into producing invert sugar at Ragus Pure sugars can be found here.

How is pharma grade sugar tested and what accreditations must it receive?

Due to the nature of the pharmaceutical industry, all sugar used in it is subject to extremely rigorous testing. The European Council’s European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur. or EP) is the legal and scientific benchmark against which all pharmaceutical products produced and sold in 38 European, and over 100 worldwide, countries are measured. This ensures standards are kept extremely high and that only products of the highest quality are produced.

Running in parallel with the EP is the British Pharmacopoeia (BP). Since 1864, this has provided quality standards for the pharmaceutical and medicinal products produced and consumed in the UK and over 100, primarily former Commonwealth, countries. All sugars designated for use in this sector are given a British Pharmacopoeia Chemical Reference Substance (BPCRS) – a document outlining the exact chemical structure they must have in order to be deemed fit for use. An example of the BPCRS for sucrose can be found here.

Ensuring strict compliance with the standards set out by both the EP and BP underpins the pharma grade sugars produced at Ragus Pure Sugars. In doing so, we can guarantee that the products we deliver to clients in the pharmaceutical sector are consistently of the highest quality and specifically formulated for their application. Overall, this results in reliable sugars that lead to a repeatable end-product, something that is crucial when manufacturing in bulk.

Contact us now to ensure your pharmaceutical grade sugar benefits from our dedicated approach to quality, consistency and on-time delivery.

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Granular detail: invert sugar

May 16 2019

This week, we explore everything there is to know about invert sugar. From its usage to storage, this guide will help you with your next sugar product purchase.

What is invert sugar?

The building block of invert sugar is ordinary table sugar, known as sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide, meaning it is composed of two different individual sugar molecules joined together, which in this instance are glucose and fructose. In order to produce invert sugar, these bonds must be broken.

Taking the production of Eastick’s golden syrup as an example, we can see how this is achieved:

– Firstly, sucrose is heated with water in inversion pans, resulting in 64% of the total sugar needed for the final product being present and the syrup reaching a pH of between 1 and 1.6

–  Once all the sugar crystals are dissolved and the temperature is over 70 degrees, the sucrose will invert into glucose and fructose

– After the desired ratio of sucrose to fructose is achieved alongside a polarisation of -14, the syrup is neutralised with a natural alkaline agent

– Following this, the syrup is caramalised using heat and time and the remaining 36% of sugar is added

– After this has dissolved, the brix, density of sucrose in a solution, will be a maximum of 83% and the polarisation is +20

– An alkaline powder is then added to bind the non-sugar particles and the syrup is passed through a plate and frame filter press for maximum purity

– Finally, the syrup is stored in maturation tanks before being passed through a final filter and sent to our customers.

Invert sugar, which also has the same sugar structure as honey, gets its name from the polarisation aspect of the above process. When light is shined through sucrose, it is reflected at a specific angle. Repeat the process with invert sugar, and you will find that the light is rotated in the opposite direction, and, is therefore inverted. Due to this, the name Ragus, ‘sugar’ backwards, was chosen.

What products is invert sugar used in?

Invert sugar is used in a diverse range of food and beverages, including ice cream, sorbets, fondants, soft drinks, baked goods and cough syrups. As well as helping develop flavour, invert sugar also serves a functional role in these products. For example, its ability to retain moisture leads to a longer shelf life for baked goods and the way it depresses the freezing point of ice creams and sorbets makes them easier to scoop.

In addition, invert sugar also makes products more resistant to microbial spoilage, further extending their shelf life and keeping them fresher for longer. As it also reduces sugar crystallisation, it can leave products with a smoother, softer texture. For soft drinks, its ability to easily dissolve in cold liquids means it is preferable to sucrose as a sweetener.

At Ragus Pure Sugars, we supply invert sugar for use in the above application in two forms: full invert syrup and partial invert syrup. Full invert syrup is a mixture of 95% invert sugar to 5% sucrose, resulting in a sweetness value that is around 40% greater than sucrose. Partial invert syrup, such as Eastick’s golden syrup, is a combination of 44% sucrose with 56% invert sugar, leaving a sweetness value that is only 20% greater than straight sucrose.

What advice do Ragus Pure Sugars give clients when buying invert sugar?

When approached by a client looking to purchase invert sugars, we make sure to ask three questions. Firstly, what is their potential usage per month; secondly, what pack size do they require, with this usually being a 25kg pail, an intermediate bulk container or a bulk tanker; thirdly, what are the ambient conditions of where the sugar will be stored. Asking these questions is crucial to determining which type of invert would be best suited to the client’s needs.

Full inverts act in the same way as honey, meaning they could potentially begin to crystallise in cold temperatures after just four weeks of storage. Partial inverts, however, are like golden syrup, and could therefore last for years if stored in the correct conditions.

Any invert sugar going into storage, particularly full inverts in bulk tanks, must be stored in a trace heated tank in order to prevent pockets of crystals forming. These crystals can quickly multiply in a matter of months, resulting in solid sugar crystals at the bottom of a storage tank. As a result, it is crucial to establish these exact customer requirements before recommending an invert sugar for their application, particularly given the differences that can occur between access to factory locations, production lines and warehouse storage temperatures.

Do you need invert sugar for your application? Contact Ragus Pure Sugars now to benefit from our near century of expertise and excellence.

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