Magnification of grains of sucrose, the most common sugar

Sugar[1] is the common name for several chemical substances, some of which taste sweet. Mostly, it refers to sucrose, lactose, or fructose. Sugar is in certain kinds of food, or it is added to make it sweeter.

Regular or pure sugar, or sucrose, is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beet. Brazil produces the most sugar per person and India's total consumption of sugar is the highest for a country.[2] Fructose is the sugar that is in fruits.

Sucrose and fructose are both made by two smaller sugars. Glucose is the more common of these smaller sugars. The human body changes regular sugar into the smaller sugars.

Chemical structure of sucrose – made of two smaller sugars
Sugar cane field in Cuba

Sugars are a kind of carbohydrate. That is, sugars are made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.[3] Carbohydrates can be simple carbohydrates or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are made of only one or a few of the smallest sugars. Complex carbohydrates are made of many of the smallest sugars.

Sugar can be different colors. For example, brown sugar has molasses in it, and is often used in baking.

There are 387 calories in 100 g of sugar.[4]



Sugarcane production – 2020
Country Millions of tonnes
  Brazil 757.1
  India 370.5
  China 108.1
  Thailand 75.0
World 1,870
Source: FAOSTAT, United Nations[5]

Global production of sugarcane in 2020 was 1.9 billion tonnes, with Brazil producing 40% of the world total and India 20% (table).

Sugar cane can be any of many species, or their hybrids, of giant grasses in the genus, or group Saccharum in the family Poaceae. They have been grown in tropical climates in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia over centuries for the sucrose found in their stems.[6]

World production of raw sugar, main producers[7]

Sugar cane needs a climate with no frost, with enough rain in the growing season so that the plant grows. It is harvested by a machine or by hand, and cut into pieces and is moved to the processing plant where it is milled. The juice is extracted with water or it is extracted by diffusion.[8] The juice is clarified with lime and heated to destroy enzymes. The thin syrup result is concentrated in evaporators, after then water is removed. The supersaturated solution is added with sugar crystals, making crystals and drying easier.[8] Molasses, fiber from the stems,[8] is burned to give energy for the sugar extraction process. The raw sugar crystals have a sticky brown coating and may be bleached by sulfur dioxide, or may be treated in a carbonation process to make it whiter.[8] About 2,500 litres (660 US gal) of water is needed for every one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of sugar to be produced.[9]

Sugar beet

Sugar beet production – 2020
Country Millions of tonnes
  Russia 33.9
  United States 30.5
  Germany 28.6
  France 26.2
World 253
Source: FAOSTAT, United Nations[10]

In 2020, global production of sugar beets was 253 million tonnes, led by Russia with 13% of the world total (table).

Sugar beet is harvested during cool seasons,[11] and then a rotor beater cuts off the head of the beet, which then is then left in the field. A beet loader pulls the beets out of the earth and into a truck, where the beet is driven to a processing plant.[12] The processor slices the beets into thin chips called cossettes. The extraction takes place in a diffuser where the beet is kept in contact with hot water for about an hour.[13][14] The diffuser is a large agitated tank in which the cossettes slowly move from one end to the other as the water is moved in the opposite direction. This is called counter-current flow and as the water goes it becomes a stronger and stronger sugar juice.


In around 8,000 BC, people in New Guinea and Polynesia had sugar cane where it had then came to Asia. With interest of the people who had discovered it, sugar cane and it's practices of planting sugar cane had gone to Southwest Asia, including China and India.[15][16]

In 510 BC the Persia (Iran), Emperor Darius invaded India where he found cane sugar which was named "the reed which gives honey without bees". The growing was kept unknown and showing the sugar for a rich profit.[16] The Arab invasion of Persia in 642 BC, sugar cane refining techniques had been added by Eastern Mediterranean people.[17]

Records from the Ancient Greeks and Romans would suggest that sugar cane was used in medicine. In around 350 CE, Indian people discovered how to crystallize sugar.[18] Around 650 CE, crystallized sugar became a culinary staple across India, China, and the Middle East.[19]

Sugar Media

Related pages

Notes and References

  1. IPA: /ˈʃʊgə/,   Play (info • help)
  2. International sugar statistics Archived 2009-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  3. You can think of this as "carbon + water".
  4. "Calories in 100 G Sugar". Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  5. "Sugarcane production in 2020, Crops/Regions/World list/Production Quantity (pick lists)". UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT). 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  6. Roy Moxham (7 February 2002). The Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier that Divided a People. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-7867-0976-2.
  7. World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2021. 2021. doi:10.4060/cb4477en. ISBN 978-92-5-134332-6. S2CID 240163091. Retrieved 2021-12-13.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "How Cane Sugar is Made – the Basic Story". Sugar Knowledge International. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  9. Flynn, Kerry (23 April 2016). "India Drought 2016 May Lead 29–35% Drop In Sugar Output For 2016–17 Season: Report". International Business Times. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  10. "Sugar beet production in 2020, Crops/Regions/World list/Production Quantity (pick lists)". UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT). 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  11. It is fall and winter as harvesting seasons.
  12. SpyroSoft (2020-01-03). "The Sugar Series: How is Beet Sugar Made? | Czarnikow". Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  13. "SKIL - How Sugar Beet Is Made". Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  14. Diffusion is the process by which the color and flavor of tea comes out of the tea leaves in a teapot but most diffusers weighs several hundred tons when full of beet and extraction water.
  15. "The history of sugar | alimentarium". Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "SKIL - History of Sugar". Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  17. "Sugar Cane in Sicily - Best of Sicily Magazine". Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  18. This is turning the sugar into a crystal-like atomic form.
  19. SpyroSoft (2019-12-20). "The Sugar Series: The History of Sugar | Czarnikow". Retrieved 2022-11-26.