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Commodity Trading

Sugar From Brazil

Anyone even remotely familiar with the sugar industry knows that Brazil is the largest player in the market in terms of production, technology, and expertise. Sugar from Brazil can be found quite literally around the globe, as Brazil exports around eighteen million tons of sugar to various countries every year. Brazil’s largest trading partner is the Unites States, where the bulk of its sugar exports are sold. Other major trading partners include Argentina, China, and Japan. Brazil produces two main types of sugar, VHP raw sugar, which is intended largely for the export market, and a smaller amount of ICUMSA 45 sugar, which is consumed locally, and a portion of which is also exported.

In total, Brazil’s sugar production is in the neighborhood of thirty million tons, a quantity which can only be matched by India’s booming sugar production industry. At present, Brazil still dominates the export market, though India is continuing to increase its exports in spite of the fact that there is an 11 million ton global sugar excess predicted for the 2007/2008 period. Sugar from Brazil comes from Sugar Cane. Brazilian sugar comes exclusively from sugar cane, which is grown in vast fields surrounding sugar mills and refineries. The bulk of these plantations and mills are located in the center south region of the country, in the Sao Paulo region. This is a flat, fertile region which is excellently suited to many different forms of agriculture. Due to the boom in the sugar market, and also the sugar ethanol market, a great deal of this region has been turned over from coffee production to sugar cane production.

 

The expansion has been so great that the regional government decided to suspend licenses for any new sugar mills in May 2007, pending an environmental impact report. There are also a great deal of sugar mills located in the northern regions of Brazil, in the states of Algolas and Pernambuco.This is the traditional home of Brazilian sugar, as these were the first states to have sugar plantations planted and mills constructed by the Dutch. This region is less suited to sugar cane growth as the soil is less fertile here, and the terrain much more rough and elevated. Unlike the center south region, where sugar cane is usually harvested by machine, manual harvesters are largely used in the northern regions because the terrain is simply not suited to machinery. Due to the development of new strains of sugar cane, yield has been increased even in the inhospitable regions of the northern states, as the newly developed strains are much more hardy than the sugar cane which is used in many countries. This allows sugar cane to be grown in locations where it once would have been impossible to grow, and for the cane grown there to have a much higher sucrose content than would normally be expected. Brazil’s domination of the sugar industry has not simply been achieved by turning over vast swathes of land to sugar cane growing, though this undoubtedly has happened. Attention has been given to every step of the sugar production process, from creating strains of sugar cane with much higher sucrose content than their fore bearers, to making the actual milling and refining processes as efficient as possible. Brazilian sugar mills usually employ a team of in house scientists to oversee various stages of the production process, to develop new and better production methods, and to conduct additional related research. So seriously does Brazil take the technical side of sugar production that it was the first country to take gene sequencing technology and use it to sequence the sugar cane genome.


Restrictions in Exporting
Buying Sugar From Brazil Buyers wishing to purchase sugar from Brazil should be aware that there are certain logistical restrictions on purchasing sugar. Many new buyers to the market see offers for millions upon millions of tons of sugar at cut rate prices and believe that they have found a good deal. Unfortunately for them, most of the time these dream deals turn out to be nightmares. Sugar is normally traded at a fairly fixed price, which is determined by global supply and demand, and which can easily be researched by comparing prices between several vendors, and by referring to the various commodities exchanges upon which sugar is traded. Brazilian sugar is also not normally sold in multi million ton shipments, especially not as a ’special offer’ or any other such euphemism. If one wishes to secure large amounts of sugar, one should be prepared to commit to multiple shipments over a period of months, or even a futures contract, under which a supply may be secured years ahead of time at a fixed price. The market is rather low at the present time, so contracts secured now may prove to be lucrative in the future. Sugar is almost always sold CIF, or Cost, Insurance, Freight. This means that the price secured will include the sugar, insurance on the sugar, and the freight on the sugar. Given current concerns regarding fuel prices, this makes futures contracts even more attractive, as prices are likely to rise substantially on freight alone in the coming months and possibly years. 


Bulk Buying
It is also worth noting once more that the bulk of sugar exported from Brazil is VHP raw sugar. This is raw sugar with a sucrose content of 99.4% or higher. It is designed for easy refining into ICUMSA 45 in the destination country, but it is not ICUMSA 45 itself. Offers for large amounts of Brazilian ICUMSA 45 sugar should therefore be viewed with extreme skepticism. A larger amount of refined white ICUMSA 150 sugar is available for export, though ICUMSA 150 is not approved for sale directly to customers in most developed countries, it may be acceptable as an ingredient in some cases. When purchasing Brazilian sugar, it is always wise to spend time researching the market and comparing various offers. Because sugar is traded globally it tends to be a largely homogeneous market. Offers dealing in sugar from Brazil which is offered in abnormally large amounts and/or at abnormally low prices are almost certain to be a scam. Brazilian Sugar Exporters. We work directly with a Brazilian co-op which is in control of over 200 sugar mills. We also work with several big hedge funds who own Brazilian sugar allocation in large quantities at any given time. Please contact us through this form below and let us know your specific requirements. We will get back to you with sugar price quotation and availability within the day.


Sugar production at Mill Sao Paulo Barr Bonita
Raw material
Sugar is a broad term applied to a large number of carbohydrates present in many plants and characterized by a more or less sweet taste. The primary sugar, glucose, is a product of photosynthesis and occurs in all green plants. In most plants, the sugars occur as a mixture that cannot readily be separated into the components. In the sap of some plants, the sugar mixtures are condensed into syrup. Juices of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) and sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) are rich in pure sucrose, although beet sugar is generally much less sweet than cane sugar. These two sugar crops are the main sources of commercial sucrose.
The sugarcane is a thick, tall, perennial grass that flourishes in tropical or subtropical regions. Sugar synthesized in the leaves is used as a source of energy for growth or is sent to the stalks for storage. It is the sweet sap in the stalks that is the source of sugar as we know it. The reed accumulates sugar to about 15 percent of its weight. Sugarcane yields about 2,600,000 tons of sugar per year.
The sugar beet is a beetroot variety with the highest sugar content, for which it is specifically cultivated. While typically white both inside and out, some beet varieties have black or yellow skins. About 3,700,000 tons of sugar are manufactured from sugar beet.Other sugar crops include sweet sorghum, sugar maple, honey, and corn sugar. The types of sugar used today are white sugar (fully refined sugar), composed of clear, colorless or crystal fragments; or brown sugar, which is less fully refined and contains a greater amount of treacle residue, from which it obtains its color. 


Preparation and processing
After the cane arrives at the mill yards, it is mechanically unloaded, and excessive soil and rocks are removed. The cane is cleaned by flooding the carrier with warm water (in the case of sparse rock and trash clutter) or by spreading the cane on agitating conveyors that pass through strong jets of water and combing drums (to remove larger amounts of rocks, trash, and leaves, etc.). At this point, the cane is clean and ready to be milled.
When the beets are delivered at the refinery, they are first washed and then cut into strips. Next, they are put into diffusion cells with water at about 79.4 degrees Celsius and sprayed with hot water countercurrently to remove the sucrose.


Juice extraction pressing
Two or three heavily grooved crusher rollers break the cane and extract a large part of the juice, or swing-hammer type shredders shred the cane without extracting the juice. Revolving knives cutting the stalks into chips are supplementary to the crushers. (In most countries, the shredder precedes the crusher.) A combination of two, or even all three, methods may be used. The pressing process involves crushing the stalks between the heavy and grooved metal rollers to separate the fiber(bagasse) from the juice that contains the sugar.As the cane is crushed, hot water (or a combination of hot water and recovered impure juice) is sprayed onto the crushed cane countercurrently as it leaves each mill for diluting. The extracted juice, called vesou, contains 95 percent or more of the sucrose present. The mass is then diffused, a process that involves finely cutting or shredding the stalks. Next, the sugar is separated from the cut stalks by dissolving it in hot water or hot juice.


Purification of juice—clarification and evaporation
The juice from the mills, a dark green color, is acid and turbid. The clarification (or defecation) process is designed to remove both soluble and insoluble impurities (such as sand, soil, and ground rock) that have not been removed by preliminary screening. The process employs lime and heat as the clarifying agents. Milk of lime (about 500g per ton of cane) neutralizes the natural acidity of the juice, forming insoluble lime salts. Heating the lime juice to boiling coagulates the albumin and some of the fats, waxes, and gums, and the precipitate formed entraps suspended solids as well as the minute particles.
The sugar beet solution, on the other hand, is purified by precipitating calcium carbonate, calcium sulfite, or both in it repeatedly. Impurities become entangled in the growing crystals of precipitate and are removed by continuous filtration. The muds separate from the clear juice through sedimentation. The non-sugar impurities are removed by continuous filtration. The final clarified juice contains about 85 percent water and has the same composition as the raw extracted juice except for the removed impurities. To concentrate this clarified juice, about two-thirds of the water is removed through vacuum evaporation. Generally, four vacuum-boiling cells or bodies are arranged in series so that each succeeding body has a higher vacuum (and therefore boils at a lower temperature). The vapors from one body can thus boil the juice in the next one—the steam introduced into the first cell does what is called multiple-effect evaporation. The vapor from the last cell goes to a condenser. The syrup leaves the last body continuously with about 65 percent solids and 35 percent water.The sugar beet sucrose solution, at this point, is also nearly colorless, and it likewise undergoes multiple-effect vacuum evaporation. The syrup is seeded, cooled, and put in a centrifuge machine. The finished beet crystals are washed with water and dried.


Crystallization
Crystallization is the next step in the manufacture of sugar. Crystallization takes place in a single-stage vacuum pan. The syrup is evaporated until saturated with sugar. As soon as the saturation point has been exceeded, small grains of sugar are added to the pan, or "strike." These small grains, called seed, serve as nuclei for the formation of sugar crystals. (Seed grain is formed by adding 1,600 grams of white sugar into the bowl of a slurry machine and mixing with 3.3 parts of a liquid mixture: 70 percent methylated spirit and 30 percent glycerine. The machine runs at 200 RPM for 15 hours). Additional syrup is added to the strike and evaporated so that the original crystals that were formed are allowed to grow in size.The growth of the crystals continues until the pan is full. When sucrose concentration reaches the desired level, the dense mixture of syrup and sugar crystals, called massecuite, is discharged into large containers known as crystallizers. Crystallization continues in the crystallizers as the massecuite is slowly stirred and cooled. Massecuite from the mixers is allowed to flow into centrifugals, where the thick syrup, or molasses, is separated from the raw sugar by centrifugal force.


Centrifugation
The high-speed centrifugal action used to separate the massecuite into raw sugar crystals and molasses is done in revolving machines called centrifugals. A centrifugal machine has a cylindrical basket suspended on a spindle, with perforated sides lined with wire cloth, inside which are metal sheets containing perforations. The basket revolves at speeds from 1,000 to 1,800 RPM. The raw sugar is retained in the centrifuge basket because the perforated lining retains the sugar crystals. The mother liquor, or molasses, passes through the lining (due to the centrifugal force exerted). The final molasses (blackstrap molasses) containing sucrose, reducing sugars, organic nonsugars, ash, and water, is sent to large storage tanks.
Once the sugar is centrifuged, it is "cut down" and sent to a granulator for drying. In some countries, sugarcane is processed in small factories without the use of centrifuges, and a dark-brown product (noncentrifugal sugar) is produced. Centrifugal sugar is produced in more than 60 countries while noncentrifugal sugar in about twenty countries.


Drying and packaging
Damp sugar crystals are dried by being tumbled through heated air in a granulator. The dry sugar crystals are then sorted by size through vibrating screens and placed into storage bins. Sugar is then sent to be packed in the familiar packaging we see in grocery stores, in bulk packaging, or in liquid form for industrial use.


Byproducts
The bagasse produced after extracting the juice from sugar cane is used as fuel to generate steam in factories. Increasingly large amounts of bagasse are being made into paper, insulating board, and hardboard, as well as furfural, a chemical intermediate for the synthesis of furan and tetrahydrofuran.
The beet tops and extracted slices as well the molasses are used as feed for cattle. The beet strips are also treated chemically to facilitate the extraction of commercial pectin.The end product derived from sugar refining is blackstrap molasses. It is used in-cattle feed as well as in the production of industrial alcohol, yeast, organic chemicals, and rum.


Molasse production
Raw Materials
Sugar cane or sugar beets are the primary ingredient for the sugar process of which molasses is a byproduct.

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