Sugar from Al Khaleej

Sugar from Al Khaleej

26 January 2016

Sugar: an ingredient found in almost every packaged food and beverage product. The six main product groups that contain added sugar include not only sweet foods like confectionery, biscuits and cakes but also savoury foods, dairy products and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Every year, in the UK alone, over two million tonnes are consumed.

According to Mintel, within Europe, there has been limited product innovation around reducing sugar content. A mere 5% of all food and drink products launched in the last five years had a low, no or reduced sugar claim. Sugar clearly continues to be a key ingredient and a commodity still very much in demand.

To meet this continued demand, 175.1 million metric tons of sugar was produced in 2014/15 (see graph below); 3% of which came from Al Khaleej Sugar based in the Arabian Gulf region.

Al Khaleej Sugar was the first sugar refinery in the region and is presently the largest standalone sugar refinery in the world. Established in 1995, the refinery has continued to increase its production capacity alongside the rising demands for its sugar.

The drastic increase in production, seen between 2009/10 and 2012/13 can be attributed to the use of sugar as a replacement for fat. In the past, manufacturers have aimed to reduce the fat content of products, but to avoid the flavour trade-off, they have added sugar. In 2011, Al Khaleej Sugar produced 1.5 million tons, its highest ever annual production of refined sugar.

The future of sugar production is promising. Although there is a global effort from government bodies and health organisations to reduce sugar consumption it is more probable that the focus will be on changing consumer behaviours. Nevertheless, some manufacturers have attempted to reduce the sugar content of their products through reformulation or by reducing the size of the products thereby using less sugar. The market is unlikely to see any drastic changes; old favourites will remain ever present.

The company exhibited for the first time at FI Europe in Paris last November.

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