Sugar products play a significant role in the human diet in most parts of the world as they are an important source of food energy. It is a soft commodity, meaning that it is grown, rather than mined and is identified as primarily tropical. Sugar is valued not only for the sweetness is brings to our food but its preservation and fermentation properties.
Sugar, however, is not just restricted to the food industry. The production of sugar also creates by-products such as beet pulp and molasses which can be used as livestock feed, and ethanol which can be used as a biofuel.
Redstone Commodity Search work intensively with different players within the sugar trading industry. Our soft commodities team has a great network of sugar traders, sugar marketers/account managers, sugar operations/logistics specialist, sugar analysts etc. Lately, the team has worked on the following assignments across the globe:
- Refined Sugar Trader, Netherlands
- Raw & Refined White Sugar Trader, New York City
- Head of Sugar Sales, Dubai
- SEA Sugar Trader, Singapore
- Sugar Market Analyst, Singapore
Sugar is obtained from the processing of sugar beets or sugar cane. Sugar is easily extracted from both and both contain high quantities of sucrose. The main difference between the two is that while sugar cane grows abundantly as a tropical grass in warm, tropical climates, sugar beets are a root crop which prefer a more temperate climate. The sugar produced after processing, however, is essentially identical.
The sugar beet is cut into very thin strips and soaked in hot water. The resulting hot sugary liquid is known as raw juice and the remaining beet strips are called beet pulp which is pressed and used in the production of animal feed. The raw juice is filtered and concentrated down to a deep brown syrup which has a high molasses content. Sugar cane processing, however, involves the stalks being shredded and squeezed to extract the juice which is boiled until it becomes a molasses-rich syrup.
Once the liquid has cooled, it is spun in a centrifuge where most of the molasses are separated from the sugar crystals. This process is repeated until no more sugar can be extracted.
Molasses can either be used in the production of spirits or mixed with the beet pulp for animal feed. The sugar is carefully washed out from the centrifuge and dried. The sugar product at this stage is known as unrefined or raw sugar and is a finished product.
The sugar is stored in large silos before being packaged for further transportation.
Refineries process raw sugar into white refined sugar. Cane sugar does not necessarily need refining but beet sugar is almost always refined to remove the taste of beets. Coarseness and impurities are removed during this process and the end product is what is most likely to be used by end consumers.
How is Sugar Traded?
Sugar cane is cultivated in most countries with a warm climate. Brazil is by far the top producer in the world followed by countries including India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico and Colombia. For cultivation of sugar beets, however, Russia, France, the USA, Germany and Turkey are among the largest producers.
Top exporters of sugar follow a similar pattern and include Brazil, Thailand, India, France, Guatemala, Mexico and Germany. Meanwhile, countries importing the highest value worth of sugar consist of the USA, China, Bangladesh, Malaysia, South Korea and Italy.
After processing, sugar is stored in silos before being packaged and transported, either for further refining or to be sold to the final consumer. Unrefined sugar is a moisture sensitive cargo so it is shipped in lined containers in order to maintain the quality of the sugar and protect the container should the sugar interact with water. Refined sugar is always carried in bags, often made of polypropylene.
Sugar futures is also a popular way to trade sugar. In order to manage price risk, consumers and producers trade sugar futures to secure selling or purchase prices.
Who are the Customers?
- Animal feed manufacturers
- Baked goods manufacturers
- Biofuel producers
- Confectionary industry
- Rum distilleries