Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
Sourcing at Ragus: our commitments
Sourcing is the starting point of everything we do; without it we could not produce our selection of specialist pure sugars and syrups. To ensure we maintain ethical, transparent and reliable sourcing supply chains, Ragus senior management routinely visit suppliers around the world. Below, we outline what these trips involve and how they contribute to operations at Ragus.
Finding the right suppliers
The first step in sourcing is finding suitable suppliers. As a prerequisite to working with Ragus, our suppliers must respect human rights – including our zero tolerance policy towards modern slavery – and be against any form of corruption. This is just an overview of our ethical criteria: for a wider indication of our CSR strategy, visit our Ten Pillars of CSR at Ragus.
To ensure suppliers adhere to Ragus’ ethical standards, our directors and senior leadership team travel all over the world to find the most suitable plantations, mills and refineries around. Experiencing these mills and refineries first-hand allows us to understand whether these organisations share the same responsibilities and values as us.
For Ragus to partner with a supplier, ethical standards are just a starting point. We must also select based on our strict quality demands. As different parts of the world grow different types of sugar – cane or beet – we need to navigate the market and select the suppliers that best meet our needs.
This means sourcing cane sugar from mills in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, while sourcing beet sugar from refineries in Europe. Sugar beet is also grown in North America, but as we are headquartered in the UK, we source all our beet sugar from within Europe.
It is important to note that with cane sugar, the location of the growing region is much more significant. For example, sugar cane grown in Mauritius is different to that grown in Australia, and this affects the quality and performance of the cane sugar when we use it to produce our range of pure sugars and syrups. Therefore, it is essential that we conduct thorough research – and continuously review this research – to discover the right suppliers.
We meet growers and suppliers in person on our sourcing trips.
Auditing the supplier’s refining process
Once we have established that their ethical standards and growing conditions meet our criteria, we then need to audit the supplier’s refining procedures. Much like their growing conditions, the refining process for beet sugar and cane sugar is not the same. Below, we’ll explain both operations in rudimentary terms.
For beet, the process involves slicing the beets into thin strips, followed by diffusing, pressing, evaporating, centrifuging and drying before the refined sugar is sieved, metal detected and packaged. Follow this link for a more thorough, step-by-step guide of the beet refining operation.
With cane, the leaves are removed, and cane is pressed from chopped stalks using high pressure rollers. Then, the juice is purified, evaporated, boiled, centrifuged and dried before the refined sugar is sieved, metal detected and packaged. As above, this link to our learning zone will provide a more detailed explanation of the process.
On our sourcing trips, it is our duty to ensure these refining processes meet our standards. Therefore, Ragus’ QESH (Quality, Environment, Health and Safety) Manager plays a critical role in auditing suppliers’ refining procedures, with key assessments concerning health, safety and hygiene.
Then, we audit each stage of the refining process.
Securing a good deal for everyone
Once satisfied with the safety of the production process and the quality of the product, the more ‘business-like’ meetings take place.
At this point, we sit down with our suppliers and discuss how much product is required for a 12 month period and at what price. In the sugar industry, stock is usually measured in tonnes, and price is always dependent on the quality of the product, and the state of play in the global sugar market. Price and quantity agreed, we move onto logistics, such as shipping schedules and delivery times.
Every meeting is unique, but usually at this point we cement the positive relationships we have developed over the course of the audit. Transparency, traceability and trust are the foundations of these relationships, helping us create long-term partnerships with our suppliers.
Finally, we sit down and discuss product, price, and tonnage.
A board member and co-leader of the business, Ben is responsible for our marketing strategy and its execution by the agency team he leads and is the guardian of our corporate brand vision. He also manages key customers and distributors.
In 2005, he took on the role of globally sourcing our ‘speciality sugars’. With his background in laboratory product testing and following three decades of supplier visits, his expertise means we get high quality, consistent and reliable raw materials from ethical sources.