Sugar - a pure natural product

Without any additives, sugar is extracted from the sugar beet. Sugar is a carbohydrate in its purest form. Carbohydrates are of particular importance to our lives because they are the body's preferred source of energy. As part of a balanced diet, 50 to 55 percent of the energy supplied comes from carbohydrates, 10 to 15 percent from protein and 30 to 35 percent from fat.

Sugar beet processing


There are sugars and sugars

The beet sugar produced at the AGRANA sites consists of nearly 100% pure sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide which is formed from the chemical building blocks of fructose and glucose. All forms of sugar, also including maltose and lactose besides sucrose, are converted by our bodies into glucose, which is a valuable source of energy. Sugar is therefore a valuable source of energy and new strength which organisms need, particularly after physical exercise.

Sugar and Caries

It is not sugar but a lack of oral hygiene which is responsible for tooth decay (caries)! All carbohydrates, regardless of whether from apples, bread or rice, encourage the formation of acid in the mouth. The type of carbohydrates plays a less important role in the formation of caries than the frequency carbohydrates are consumed and how long these carbohydrates are in contact with the teeth. If you clean your teeth regularly (that means at least twice a day) with toothpaste containing fluoride, you can avoid tooth problems.

Is brown sugar healthier than white sugar?

Brown sugar may look healthier and more natural than white sugar, but this is not the case from a health perspective. Brown sugar is essentially white sugar to which syrup residues are still attached. While white sugar is crystallised several times and purified with water, brown sugar from sugar beet gets its colour from and its distinctive taste through the addition of raw sugar syrup and caramelised crystallised sugar. Brown cane sugar, on the other hand, is only partially refined, as a result of which it retains its brown colour and the typical taste of cane sugar.

Sugar - a cause of obesity?

Sugar has no particular characteristics which justify la- belling it as a primary cause of obesity. On the contrary: The conversion of carbohydrates, and therefore also sugar, into body fat is a process which requires more energy than the conversion of fats from food into body fat. The only people who become fat are those who eat too much as a whole and who take too little exercise. One gram of sugar has the same number of calories  as one gram of protein, i. e. 4 kcal, and therefore  less than half that of one gram of fat (9 kcal). A sugar cube, for example, doesn’t have more than 15 kcal (63 kJ).

Sugar and nutrients

Due to its high degree of purity, nearly 100% sucrose, sugar is often referred to as a source of ‘empty  calories’ and a vitamin depletory. The concern that sugar consumption will reduce the uptake of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals is unfounded.  Sugar rarely or never is consumed in isolation but always as a sweetening  agent with different foods. With its sweet taste, sugar also often contributes to nutrient-rich products with an unattractive taste be- coming more accepted  by consumers.  The accusation of vitamin depletion is not justified. Vitamin B1 in our metabolism ensures that sugar is utilised. However, this also applies to other carbohydrates,  i. e. from bread, potatoes and noodles. Our body sources vitamin B1 from a mixed diet. One more reason to ensure a balanced and moderate diet with carbohydrates, fats and protein as well as vitamins and minerals.

Sugar compared with honey

The case with honey is similar. Honey largely consists of various sugars, such as fructose and glucose, as well as minerals and traces of vitamins.  These minerals are inadequate to meet our mineral requirements and, vis-a-vis other forms of sugar, do not provide any notable nutritional advantages.

Producing sugar from sugar beet

Producing sugar from sugar beet is a multi-staged process that is carried out extensively in most European countries. Sugar beet takes two years to cultivate, recording its highest level of sugar content in the autumn of its first year of growth. It is harvested at this point and sugar contained in the cells of the sugar beet is extracted and crystallized. After being harvested, the amount of sugar reduces during storage, making it imperative to process it as quickly as possible in order to yield as much sugar as possible. As a result, the beet is processed every year between the end of September and the middle of January, necessitating a biologically based harvesting and processing system (sugar beet campaign).

The most important stages in producing sugar are:

  • Processing the beet
  • Removing the soil, extracting the sugar beet juice and separating the plant-based materials
  • Juice cleaning/concentration
  • Removing any non-sugar substances and water (storing the syrup)
  • Crystallisation and storing the sugar
  • Producing pure sugar and storing this in large silos under ideal conditions

Most of the processing stages are run continuously. The aim of the process is to produce a microbiologically stable commodity (granulated sugar or storable syrup) that can be stored for delivery throughout the entire year (granulated sugar) or for further processing (syrup).

Producing sugar form sugar cane

Sugar cane is obtained from sugar cane shoots called "sets" that are ready for harvest after eleven to eigtheen months. Each shoot can be harvested up to seven times before it has to be replaced. Harvesting is done either mechanically or by Hand. The dried leaves, called "trash", are often burned away first to make the subsequent processing easier.

The cultivated cane must be processed as soon as possible after being harvested in order to obtain the sugar and to prevent sugar being broken down by microorganisms. Raw cane sugar is thus produced in factories that are located close to the growing area. The sugar cane is cleaned, compressed and ground, before being sprayed with hot water to extract the juice. This juice is then filtered, concentrated by means of pressurized steam, and then crystallized. It is then passed through centrifuges to separate it from the remaining syrup.

At this stage, the sugar is partly clean and exists in a crystallized, microbiologically stable form. As a commodity it can now be stored and transported to refineries around the world.

The most importatn stages in refining raw sugar are:

  • Affination and dissolution
  • Carbonation and filtration
  • Decolourisation
  • Evaporation and crystallisation