In the food and beverage industry, it’s essential to keep developing products and production processes. After giant companies like Coca-cola and Pepsi-cola initiated the policy to replace sweetener ingredients from refined sugar with liquid sugar, which has quality comparable to refined sugar. Unlike sugar that needs to be remelted, liquid sugar is already in liquid form and ready to be used. The innovation of liquid sugar production created a significant change in the food and beverage industry, including the sugar industry.
In 2020, the Coca-cola company in Indonesia had a joint venture with a sugar refinery plant to construct a liquid sugar production plant to serve liquid sugar as a sweetener ingredient for their own five factories in Indonesia. Moreover, this project shall become a business model for their factories worldwide to utilize liquid sugar as a sweetener raw material. In addition, the uprising demand for liquid sugar in the market has driven Thailand to construct seven liquid sugar plants with a total production capacity for each plant of over 60,000 tons per year.
An essential factor that the food and beverage industry has chosen to use liquid sugar is production cost reduction and ease of use, especially in beverage products that contain high sugar content and require raw materials in liquid form. Whether soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, ready-to-drink coffee and tea, etc., refined sugar must be prepared through various processes before application, including dissolved sugar to an appropriate concentration, filtered with activated carbon, and filtered with a super fine paper sheet. The preparation processes are not only costly but also waste production time. Thus, replacing refined sugar with liquid sugar would shortcut these processes, reduce operation costs, and increase the factory’s production efficiency.
Besides liquid sugar could increase the food and beverage industry’s production potential, sugar factories that produce liquid sugar also benefit from the different manufacturing processes. In general, a sugar refinery begins with melting raw sugar into syrup, then purifying the syrup through filtration and color removal process to produce refined liquor syrup, which is ready to crystallize into sugar and separate impurities named molasses. However, the rejected molasses still contain sugar components as much as 50%, which means it is unavoidable for sugar factory to lose their refinery yield up to 1.5-2% from molasses rejection.
On the other hand, the production of liquid sugar takes fine liquor syrup that still contains certain colorants and non-sucrose solvents to pass through an advanced purification process: decolorization by adsorbent technology, demineralization by ion exchange resin, taste and odor polishing, sterilization and evaporation to produce high-quality liquid sugar. According to the difference in the production process, all the syrup could be refined into liquid sugar without sugar loss in molasses. Consequently, refinery yield is increased. The production of liquid sugar at a capacity of 60,000 tons per year could profit 13.5-18 million baht per year from the yield, not including the benefits from operation costs in other parts and increased business potential.
And while sugar remains the most popular sweetener in food and beverage flavoring, liquid sugar has become a staple in white sugar substitutes. This is because the food and beverage manufacturers can reduce the sugar preparation and production processes to be more convenient and faster. And on the sugar factory side, it can reduce sugar loss and increase the factory’s productivity. As a result, it has mutual benefits for both sides. As a country that is one of the world’s top sugarcane cultivation and sugar exporters, Thailand has significant advantages in terms of raw materials. Therefore, the further development of the sugar factory business and the development of products that meet the market demand, such as liquid sugar production, will increase the potential of the sugar factory’s business. Expand the opportunity to increase the value of the product. It will also help develop its agricultural sector to make further progress.
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