Sugar industry

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View into the mill house of a cane sugar factory in Guatemala
Sugar factory of the French company Tereos in Nantes
Sugar plantation and factory in Costa Rica

The sugar industry includes companies that deal with the processing of vegetable raw materials containing sugar , in particular sugar beet and sugar cane . Traditionally, the resulting primary products are then called cane sugar or beet sugar, depending on the raw material used . There is no chemical difference between sugar from sugar beet and sugar cane. With its end product, sugar, the sugar industry produces one of the most chemically pure products - the sugar content in the dry matter is almost 100%.

Occasionally the sugar industry also includes companies that build the plants used in sugar production, for example the sugar centrifuges.

Processing products

The primary end product in the processing of sugar beet and sugar in a sugar factory, the granulated sugar ( sucrose ), also in large quantities as by-products are usable molasses and in the case of the sugar beet processing beet pulp or in the case of sugar cane processing bagasse recovered. In the campaign the harvested are sugar beets to the sugar factory transported and processed there.

The processing of the residual components from sugar production is becoming increasingly important. While previously only the leached beet pulp could be used as inexpensive animal feed for pigs , for example, valuable ingredients in sugar beet and sugar cane have long been recognized, which are present in smaller quantities than sugar , but can also be successfully obtained on an industrial scale from the remaining components , for example Amino acids and betaine .


In the industrialized countries as well as in the countries of the Third World, approx. 80% of the sugar produced is used commercially, i.e. not given directly to end consumers as food. These amounts of sugar are used in particular in the production of food, for example in bakeries, in the confectionery industry and in fruit and vegetable processing for sweetening and preservation purposes. The beverage and pharmaceutical industries also use sugar as a raw material.

The most important sugar producing nations

Close up of table sugar

The three most important sugar producers worldwide are Brazil , India and the People's Republic of China , the most important producer countries in Europe are France , Germany and Poland (see table).

The largest sugar producers (2003)
rank  country Production 
(in million t )
rank  country Production 
(in million t)
1 BrazilBrazil Brazil 24.8 9 GermanyGermany Germany 4.2
2 IndiaIndia India 22.1 10 PakistanPakistan Pakistan 4th
3 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 11.1 11 CubaCuba Cuba 3.8
4th United StatesUnited States United States 8th 12 South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa 2.6
5 ThailandThailand Thailand 7.3 13 ColombiaColombia Colombia 2.6
6th AustraliaAustralia Australia 5.4 14th PhilippinesPhilippines Philippines 2.1
7th MexicoMexico Mexico 4.9 15th IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 2.1
8th FranceFrance France 4.4 16 PolandPoland Poland 2

(Source: The world in numbers. In: Handelsblatt , 2005)

The largest sugar factory in the world for the production of cane sugar is the Kenana Sugar Company in Sudan . The factory uses the irrigation areas of the Jazira project and is located about 250 kilometers south of Khartoum near Kusti . In 2003 production was over 400,000 tons per year. It is also considered to be the most efficient sugar factory in the world, surrounded by the world's largest sugar cane plantation.

Sugar industry in Brazil

The Brazilian sugar industry is based on sugar cane; Brazil is the largest sugar cane producer in the world. The share of global sugar production in 2003/2004 was about 1/6. Brazil produced around 24.4 million tons of sugar in 2003/2004. Brazil's sugar industry plans to expand production significantly.

In Brazil, however, not only is sugar made from sugar cane, the production of bioethanol is also noteworthy. With an output of 40 million m³ (2004), Brazil ranks second in the world in bioethanol production behind the USA . In 2007, the sugar cane harvest in Brazil was 558 million tonnes, a growth of 17.62% compared to 2006. The forecast for 2008 is 607 million Tons of which 89% (540 million tons) are used for the production of sugar and ethanol, the other 11% are used for the production of cachaça , amorphous sugar (rapadura), as fodder and as seeds.

Sugar industry in the European Union

Sugar is produced in 18 countries in the European Union . Most of the modern sugar factories for processing sugar beet are now in Poland , Germany and France . Between 2005 and 2010 alone, 83 sugar factories were closed in the EU. Today around 180,000 people in the EU are directly or indirectly employed in the sugar industry.

Sugar production in the EU member states
in the 2010/11 marketing year
country Sugar yield
t / ha
Sugar production
t white sugar value
FranceFrance France 12.5 4,526,414
(of which 268,995 in the
overseas departments )
GermanyGermany Germany 9.5 3,442,683
PolandPoland Poland 7.3 1,432,529
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 10.7 995,000
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 12.3 873.130
BelgiumBelgium Belgium , LuxembourgLuxembourgLuxembourg  11.7 686,550
ItalyItaly Italy 8.8 554,530
SpainSpain Spain 11.4 528.837
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 8.5 458.906
DenmarkDenmark Denmark 11.6 453.395
AustriaAustria Austria 9.9 444.264
SwedenSweden Sweden 7.3 285,450
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia 7.5 129,930
RomaniaRomania Romania 5.3 123.664
HungaryHungary Hungary 8.8 120,500
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania 6.7 100,566
FinlandFinland Finland 5.3 80.273
GreeceGreece Greece 5.7 77,182
PortugalPortugal Portugal k. A. 1,300
total 10.0 15.315.103

Sugar maker

The largest sugar producers in Europe in 2011
Companies country Market share
Südzucker GermanyGermany Germany 24.8%
Nordzucker GermanyGermany Germany 15.4%
British Sugar (ABF) United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 12.1%
Tereos FranceFrance France 11.7%
Koninklijk Coöperatie Cosun (Royal Cosun) NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 7.0%
Pfeifer & Langen GermanyGermany Germany 6.6%
Cristal Union FranceFrance France 4.5%
Krajowa Spółka Cukrowa (Polski Cukier) PolandPoland Poland 4.2%
Groupe Vermandoise FranceFrance France 3.2%
Other companies 10.6%

Sugar industry in Germany

The considerable competitive pressure on the European and world market has led to a strong concentration of the companies involved. While around 1900 the sugar industry in Germany alone still consisted of hundreds of smaller "joint-stock sugar companies", which mostly owned only one or a few sugar factories and often belonged to the supplying farmers, in the meantime these have essentially merged into three larger German companies, namely the Südzucker AG , based in Mannheim , the Nordzucker AG , headquartered in Braunschweig and Pfeifer & Langen , based in Cologne . According to the articles of association, the shares in Nordzucker AG still predominantly belong to the farmers whose sugar beets are processed in the company's sugar factories. Pfeifer & Langen is still family-owned today.

In 2009/10, 3.126 million tons of sugar were sold in Germany, of which 85.8 percent was processed sugar for industry and crafts and 14.2 percent as household sugar in the form of refined sugar, powdered sugar, lump sugar, rock candy and other types, mainly via the Grocery sells.

Consumption of processing sugar in Germany:

GDR sugar factory in Güstrow in July 1984 (parent company of VEB Nordkristall )
Anklam sugar factory
View of the Nordzucker factory in Uelzen
Sugar factory in Euskirchen

The number of sugar factories in Germany has fallen sharply over the past forty years, as it is much more efficient to produce more sugar in fewer sugar factories. Then there is the transport logistics: Today's tractors and the increasing use of trucks in the past few years in contrast to farm deliveries allow the beets to be delivered to factories more than 100 km away in an acceptable time and in larger quantities. B. from Schleswig-Holstein to the Uelzen sugar factory of Nordzucker AG. In 2006 there were still 25 operating sugar factories in Germany, compared to around 500 to 600 before the First World War. There are only three large sugar companies in Germany ( Nordzucker , Südzucker , Pfeifer & Langen ) and the Dutch company Suiker Unie with a plant in Anklam . The last sugar factory Jülich (Westzucker) organized as a cooperative was taken over by Pfeifer and Langen in 2007. The processing capacity in modern beet sugar factories reaches up to 15,000 tonnes of beets per 24 hours. The capacity of the sugar factory in Uelzen is even up to. 20,000 t of beets / 24 h. The campaign lasts approximately 100 days in mainland Europe, up to 140 days in the UK and up to 270 days in the USA.

Location state operator Processing capacity / day
Anklam Mecklenburg-Western PomeraniaMecklenburg-Western Pomerania Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Suiker Unie 11,250 tons of beets
Appeldorn North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia Pfeifer & Langen KG 07,500 tons of beets
Brottewitz BrandenburgBrandenburg Brandenburg Südzucker AG 06,000 tons of beets
Claws Lower SaxonyLower Saxony Lower Saxony Nordzucker AG 11,000 tons of beets
Euskirchen North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia Pfeifer & Langen KG 10,000 tons of beets
Jülich North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia Pfeifer & Langen KG 16,500 tons of beets
Zuckerdorf Klein Wanzleben Saxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt Nordzucker AG 15,500 tons of beets
Skills Saxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt Pfeifer & Langen KG 16,000 tons of beets
location North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia Pfeifer & Langen KG 07,500 tons of beets
Nordstemmen Lower SaxonyLower Saxony Lower Saxony Nordzucker AG 17,000 tons of beets
Ochsenfurt BavariaBavaria Bavaria Südzucker AG 15,000 tons of beets
Offenau Baden-WürttembergBaden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg Südzucker AG 13,000 tons of beets
(New) Offstein Rhineland-PalatinateRhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate Südzucker AG 18,500 tons of beets
Plattling BavariaBavaria Bavaria Südzucker AG 17,000 tons of beets
Rain BavariaBavaria Bavaria Südzucker AG 12,000 tons of beets
Schladen Lower SaxonyLower Saxony Lower Saxony Nordzucker AG 10,500 tons of beets
Uelzen Lower SaxonyLower Saxony Lower Saxony Nordzucker AG 20,000 tons of beets
Wobble HesseHesse Hesse Südzucker AG 07,000 tons of beets
Warburg North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia Südzucker AG 05,000 tons of beets
Time Saxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt Südzucker AG 12,400 tons of beets

Sugar industry in Austria

The largest sugar producer in Austria is Agrana Beteiligungs-AG, which in addition to sugar also produces starch, fruit preparations and fruit juice concentrates as well as bioethanol. She operates the sugar factories in Tulln and Siebenbrunn / Leopoldsdorf here .

Agrana is also active in many other European countries and operates other sugar factories in the Czech Republic , Slovakia , Hungary , Romania and Bosnia-Herzegovina .

Sugar industry in Switzerland

In Switzerland, Schweizer Zucker AG (SZU) is the only sugar producer with sugar factories in Aarberg in the canton of Bern and in Frauenfeld in the canton of Thurgau .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sudanese Embassy: Industry ( Memento of December 8, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
  2. Miracle of sugar in the desert. .
  3. ^ Sudan, securing its future in sugar , November 1, 2005.
  4. LME Aktuell - November 19, 2004 .
  5. Greenpeace market check, viewed January 18, 2017 ( Memento of November 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ).
  6. Folha Online - Dinheiro - Produção de álcool e de açúcar baterá recorde em 2008, prevê Conab - 29/04/2008 .
  7. Top-Agrar Österreich (found on July 25, 2010).
  8. LebensmittelZeitung: Top 9 Sugar Manufacturers Europe 2011 ( Memento from September 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive ).