Revolutionise Your Business With A High Speed Automatic Sugar Packaging Solution

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Revolutionise Your Business With A High Speed Automatic Sugar Packaging Solution

Millions of businesses across the globe rely on sugar for a range of applications. Affordable, accessible and widely consumed, it's a popular product and demand for it shows no signs of slowing down.

Last year in 2021, the global sugar market reached a volume of 193.2 million tons despite Covid-19 causing economic fluctuations. It’s expected to exceed 202 million tons in volume by 2026.

If you're a manufacturer involved in producing or selling some form of sugar, you'll want to capitalise on its growing demand. This means preparing your business for the future and taking advantage of many recent advances in bagging technology and automation from Webster Griffin.

One way you can do this is by investing in high-speed automatic packaging machines to dramatically improve productivity and revolutionise your business. Keep reading to find out how Webster Griffin's knowledge in the sector and our bespoke Turn Key sugar packing systems can offer your business a comprehensive solution.

What Does Today’s Sugar Market Look Like?

Sugar is a soft commodity that’s traded worldwide. Over 80% of all sugar produced comes from sugar cane which grows in over 110 tropical and subtropical countries perennially. Every year, countries trade roughly 64 million raw tons of sugar.

Brazil, Thailand, the EU and India currently dominate the market with their 2020 annual production volumes sitting at 43.3 tons (Brazil), 7.7 tons (Thailand), 15.5 tons (the EU) and 30.08 tons (India) respectively.

Historically, developed nations’ sugar consumption has been low and developed countries' consumption high. Asian and African demand is set to increase due to economic expansion, population growth and rising demand for confectionery and soft drinks.

Demand is set to decline in developed and high income countries like Canada, the EU, and the UK due to sugar taxes, government policies and changing consumption habits. This could also prompt manufacturers to reformulate products with less sugar, decrease portion sizes and use alternative sweeteners.

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Sugar prices have decreased in recent years but are expected to recover for Indian, Thai and Brazilian exporters. Demand is also expected to remain concentrated in developing countries. White sugar prices have hit record highs due to a tight supply and harvest delays.

Sugar is mostly used by the food and drinks industry. It's also used to make animal feed, ethanol and chemical, textile, plastic and pharmaceutical bio-based products. Roughly 100 tons of sugar cane produces about 16 tons of sugar. Sugar mills crush the cane to extract its juices and fibres and then sift, heat and add lime to the juice to neutralise and clarify it. They process, clarify and boil the juice into a concentrate and then dry it in pans to produce crystals.

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The sugar and molasses are separated with the molasses sold for use in mass food and drink production. The rest is refined to remove its impurities and sold to big businesses (such soft drink producers) and for home use. Molasses is added to white sugar to produce brown sugar. White sugar is refined to produce different product grades based on purity, colour, ash and moisture percentage and crystal size.

What Are Today’s Sugar Product Packaging Options Like?

In the past, sugar manufacturers packaged their products manually. This was time-consuming, came with high labour and package wastage costs and produced inconsistently packaged products. These days, bagging machines are used to pour accurate amounts of products into open mouth bags.

These are specialised packaging machines are often equipped with helpful additions such as automatic bag top sewing machines, checkweighers for bag weight accuracy, conveyors to move products through the packaging line, labellers to apply product information to bags and metal detectors to detect metallic and non-metallic contaminants in packaged products.

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Most bagging machines are supplemented by palletising machines if the businesses ship their products nationwide or internationally on pallets. These machines sort, store and stack products for shipping. They prepare the pallets/packages for distribution.

The resulting pallets are stable and precise. They are helpful with high volume transportation and it does so quicker than manual packing allows. They can also better handle all shapes and weights of packages and by eliminating manual labour, lower costs and reduce the risk of on-site injuries.

Sugar Is Bagged In A Range Of Sizes...

Products are bagged in a range of sizes, with smaller sizes aimed at consumers ranging from 500 g to 2 kgs and Big Bags ranging from 25 kgs to over a 1000 kgs. Here are the most common sugar packaging sizes:

1-2 kg Retail paper/ plastic bags
1-2 kg Retail paper/ plastic bags
5 - 10 kgs Catering packs
5 - 10 kgs Catering packs
25 - 50 kg Industrial packaging
25 - 50 kg Industrial packaging

Retail Sugar Packaging 1-2 kg:

For home consumption. It usually takes the form of 1-2 kg open mouth paper bags or plastic bags and are usually packaged with a P4 bag packer or Form Fill Seal (FFS) velocity 1000 machine.

Catering Packs of 5-10 kg:

For specialty baking and hospitality industry and are used by caterers, hotels, canteens and restaurants. They’re packaged in pre-made bags or plastic bags packed with a FFS machine weighing 5-10 kg. Because the sugar is packaged for longer term use they can be waterproofed. They're also designed for line filling and have a self standing block bottom that is sealed after filling.

Industrial or Manufacturer Packaging 25-50 kg:

For mass producing food or drink product companies. Packaging sizes range from 25 kgs to 50 kgs to a ton flexible intermediate bulk container (FIBC), jumbo or Big Bags that are moisture proof, shockproof and recyclable. Most use Big Bag filling machines such as the IBC PF4 & IBC PW or semi-automatic bagging machines like the MBS 600, or the fully automatic ABS 1000 & 1500.

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Demand is rising for flexible intermediate bulk containers made from fabrics like polypropylene. Woven polypropylene (WPP) bags are popular for packaging flowable, dry goods like sugar. They're waterproof, easy to clean, antibacterial and can handle larger weight without damage. This is important as packaged sugar undergoes frequent handling as it travels to the end user. They also make for neat and safe stacking on pallets and optimise storage space. Filled WPP bags are shipped in international intermodal containers that meet specific International Organization for Standardization specification and are built to withstand turbulent travel.

Trends indicate that demand for the smallest (at one end) and the largest (at the semi bulk end) is increasing. Globalisation is resulting in larger product volumes being shipped worldwide. Transporting larger bags is also more cost effective and minimises its transportation's impact on the environment. The bags and pallets can also be recycled and have several secondary uses.

In sugar producing areas like South America, Africa and Indonesia, empty 50kg bags WPP bags are frequently used and reused in the marketplace. Here, retailers buy sugar in these bags and resell them in smaller volumes to individuals. have extensive secondary value which adds to their eco-friendliness and appeal. They're used to package agricultural fruit and vegetable products and grains like maize and flour and animal feeds. The bags are used for filtration during irrigation and construction. They’re also used for screens, fences, tents and sunshades in buildings or repurposed into shopping bags for personal use.

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Where To Next For Sugar Packaging?

Demand for sugar packed into Big Bags of 1250kgs and 25kg sacks from downstream processors and large food and soft drinks manufacturers is growing. This will be accompanied by an increasing demand for weatherproof packaging options as climate change becomes more unpredictable. There will be an increasing need for automated packaging system including the ABS 1000 and ABS 1500 for filling 5 kg bags, 25 kg and 50 kg bags. There will also be a exigency for an IBC PF4 machine for filling bulk bags at a speed of 35-60 bars an hour. These machines will help reduce labour costs and make factory operations safer.

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Fully automatic bagging lines are likely to remain the preferred option for packaging intermediate 25-50 kg pre-made bags with sugar. While FFS bagging machines aren’t the number one choice for packaging sugar in Europe, switching from paper to PE (polyethylene) bags for retail packaging will cut down on packaging costs and function as an environmentally friendly packaging solution. Big Bags could benefit from switching to a high speed solution that improves their productivity by packaging anywhere from 20-30 ton bags per hour to 45-90 1250 kg bags per hour.

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Webster Griffin has been at the forefront of sugar packaging machinery for decades, having first provided British client Tate & Lyle with a hi-speed valve sack packing machine for granulated sugar in 1987. Since then we’ve used the latest in packaging and automation technology to offer our clients Turn Key, bespoke packaging solutions for their sugar products.

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One client we assisted was premium speciality cane sugar producer Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC). They required a solution to package retail products for international export. We created a solution that combined a Big Bag filling line with a FFS packer and dust collection and filtration system. It also included a bag emptying station and conveyor to transport products down the packaging line.

Each bag was weighed and logged for quality control and traceability and a metal container preventing any contamination. Finally, the bags were stacked on pallets before being protected using stretch wrapping. The solution helped BAMC lower their packaging costs by integrating all their operations at one location.

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We also installed three Big Bag filling lines, two high speed open mouth bagging lines, and a FFS bagging machine for one of the world’s top five sugar refineries. Saudi Arabia’s United Sugar Company needed to package coarse and fine sugar into separate bags and fill four-loop PE coated Big Bags at higher speeds.

As the system operated in a warm climate the system integrated a dosing mechanism to prevent spillage and ensure weighing accuracy. Two high speed automatic open-mouth bagging machines were installed to fill 20 to 25kg bags.

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We also installed three Big Bag filling lines, two high speed open mouth bagging lines, and a FFS bagging machine for one of the world’s top five sugar refineries. Saudi Arabia’s United Sugar Company needed to package coarse and fine sugar into separate bags and fill four-loop PE coated Big Bags at higher speeds.

As the system operated in a warm climate the system integrated a dosing mechanism to prevent spillage and ensure weighing accuracy. Two high speed automatic open-mouth bagging machines were installed to fill 20 to 25kg bags.

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