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White sugar is refined sugar processed from the natural sugars which can be found in sugar beet or sugar cane. The industry name for the sparkling white sugar which is often known to consumers as ‘table sugar’, is ICUMSA 45. The name ICUMSA 45 is taken from the body which regulates sugar testing methods, known as the International Commission For Uniform Methods Of Sugar Analysis. ICUMSA testing allows suppliers and buyers to know with precision just how refined a sugar sample is, and provides an accurate rating system for trading sugar internationally. In most Western and developed nations, the only refined sugar approved for sale to the general public is ICUMSA 45 sugar. Other types of white sugar include ICUMSA 100 and ICUMSA 150, refined white sugars that lack the clear sparkling appearance of ICUMSA 45, but which are nonetheless still safe for human consumption.

Sugar Standards & Specifications:

ICUMSA – International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis

ICUMSA 45 – White Refined Sugar. Also called “London White”*

ICUMSA 150 (this includes ICUMSA 100 to ICUMSA 150). Also called Crystal Sugar.

VHP or ICUMSA 600 – 1500 This is also called “Raw Sugar


ICUMSA is a world-wide body which brings together the activities of the National Committees for Sugar Analysis in more than thirty member countries. Work is carried out under various Subject headings, each headed by a Referee.
Methods are recommended for tentative approval by ICUMSA in the first instance. Upon meeting all of the Commission’s requirements, methods are accorded official status. Methods which are demonstrably useful and have found an established application, or which do not lend themselves to collaborative testing are given an Accepted status”

An ICUMSA rating is an international unit for expressing the purity of the sugar in solution, and is directly related to the colour of the sugar. Be aware that there are different types of ICUMSA units. For Brazilian sugar, the lower the ICUMSA figure the whiter the sugar.
However, this is not the case in the E.U. for some unknown reason, which has been the subject of much discussion. SGS of Sao Paulo has published specifications for ICUMSA numbers for E.U. product which run contrary to the Brazilian specifications; for example, in Brazil SGS has an ICUMSA rating of 45 rbu for refined, indicating the highest quality, with other grades of lower quality (such as Special Extra Crystal) having a higher ICUMSA of 150 and so forth.
This rating method is confirmed by the Institute of Sugar and Alcohol in Brazil.

The TU is heavily dependent upon “ash points”, which are defined as “Conductivity ash, % , expressed to three decimal places” (British Sugar Corp., Central Laboratory, ICUMSA Headquarters). Further used to weight the TU is “reflectance Grade Colour” and “Solution Colour” or “Filtered Colour” as it is referred to, which have formulas for determination equally confusing as the one for “Ash Points”. Thus, as you see, this is not easily understood by the novice.

Raw Sugar

Raw sugar is the product from which refined sugars are made. It is also consumed in some parts of the world as a foodstuff in its own right. The bulk of the world’s sugar exports are made up of raw sugar, the most notable exporter of raw sugar being Brazil, which exports VHP raw sugar in massive amounts, often exceeding twenty million tons, every year.

VHP Raw Sugar

VHP raw sugar is processed more than normal raw sugar. As with normal raw sugar, the raw sugar juice is boiled and allowed to crystallize, but it is then sent into a centrifugal chamber, which drives off the liquid content, or molasses, and leaves light brown sugar crystals behind.
These sugar crystals have far less contamination in them than normal raw sugar, and overall the sugar produced by this process has a nice high sucrose content. VHP sugar is defined as being sugar with sucrose content of 99.4 % or more.

VHP sugar was invented in 1993 by Brazilian sugar scientists, and is now the most popular raw sugar export in the world. This is because buyers get more sugar per shipment when they purchase VHP, due to the fact that it has such a high sucrose content. It is also easier and quicker to refine than other sugars, and the bulk of ICUMSA 45 refined sparkling white sugar is made from VHP raw sugar for this reason.

Brazilian sugar is perhaps the most well known type of sugar in the world. As the biggest sugar exporteron the planet, Brazil produces around thirty million tons of sugar every year, and exports two thirds of that to various countries.

Brazilian sugar is grown in two major regions in Brazil, the larger of these is the Sao Paulo region. Located in the center south of the country, it is known for its vast fertile plains, much of which have been turned over to sugar cane production over the past decades as sugar has become an increasingly viable crop, and as interest in sugar ethanol as a form of alternate fuel has also grown.

The other major growing region is in the northern states of Pernambuco and Algolas. Though these states are much less fertile and boast rugged terrain which is not nearly as well suited to the cultivation of sugar cane, they are the historical home of sugar production in Brazil. They are also the main regions of expansion, as the Sao Paulo region recently cut permits for new sugar mills in that jurisdiction due to environmental concerns, leaving would be developers to seek other regions in which to build their mills.

Global demand for sugar has continued to increase over the years, with population growth and the growing popularity of the Western style diet accounting for much of this growth. Production has also increased in many countries, and India in particular is now a solid rival to Brazil in the production stakes, though its exports are significantly lower than Brazil’s.

The great majority of Brazil’s sugar exports are in the form of VHP raw sugar, a raw sugar product that has undergone some processing to increase its polarity.

VHP raw sugar contains no less than 99.4% sucrose, is a light brown color, and is in great demand by refineries around the world. VHP raw sugar is a Brazilian invention, created in 1993 as an answer to the inherent inefficiency of carting large amounts of raw sugar around the world only to lose a great deal of it to the refining process due to the fact that so much of it was made up of liquids and contaminants.
Refineries soon saw the benefits to using a high sucrose raw material instead of traditional raw sugar, and the Brazilian sugar industry went from strength to strength after its invention.

VHP raw sugar contains no less than 99.4% sucrose, is a light brown color, and is in great demand by refineries around the world. VHP raw sugar is a Brazilian invention, created in 1993 as an answer to the inherent inefficiency of carting large amounts of raw sugar around the world only to lose a great deal of it to the refining process due to the fact that so much of it was made up of liquids and contaminants.
Refineries soon saw the benefits to using a high sucrose raw material instead of traditional raw sugar, and the Brazilian sugar industry went from strength to strength after its invention.

Equal attention has been paid to the physical processes associated with milling sugar cane and refining sugar. Most Brazilian sugar mills have efficiency teams whose job it is to streamline and economize all processes in the plant. Recycling is also a high priority, with the sugar cane fiber often burned to power the facility. So efficient are Brazilian mills that they often manage to sell power onto the national grid because the burning of the bagasse (a name given to the fibrous part of the sugar cane discarded after crushing) provides more than enough energy to power the plant.


Why White Sugar?

Since the time that effective sugar refining techniques were developed, white sugar has been a favorite of consumers and governmental regulating bodies alike. The main, and most practical reason for this is the fact that highly refined sugar is the safest type of sugar for consumers in terms of contamination levels and bacteria counts, having very low levels of both. The white coloration does not arise from additives or bleaches, but rather from the processes used to remove contamination from raw sugar, which is a deep brown color, and contains a great deal of undesirable elements, including high bacteria counts which can cause severe illnesses in humans.

How Is White Sugar Made?

White sugar is refined from raw sugar, which is usually extracted from sugar cane juice. Both sugar beet and sugar cane are natural sources of sugar, however sugar cane is more plentifully cultivated, and therefore most of the world’s sugar originates from this source.
Refined sugar is essentially pure sucrose, and there is very little difference between sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar extracted from sugar beet. Only careful chemical analysis can determine whether a sugar sample was made from sugar beet or sugar cane, so practically speaking there is no difference between the sources.

Raw sugar is usually transported to the refinery, which may be in a different country from the mill in which it was produced. Some mills are also refineries however, and specific configurations differ from country to country, and facility to facility. When raw sugar arrives at a refinery, it can be in one of two forms. Most raw sugar products are now VHP raw sugar, processed raw sugar which whilst not being refined in the proper sense, contains a higher sucrose content and lower contamination level than traditional raw sugar. It is normally a light brown color, and can be refined in one step using a process called ‘carbonization’.

Carbonization involves dissolving the sugar into a liquid solution and then adding milk of lime. The milk of lime travels through the solution, forming calcium carbonate as it goes. As calcium carbonate forms it attracts the colorants and contaminants in the solution, and it locks them away as it falls to the bottom of the carbonization chamber. By the end of the carbonization process, all that is left in the sugar solution is water and sucrose. This solution is then boiled to remove the excess water, and the sucrose is crystallized.

If the refinery is working with raw sugar however, there is an additional step undertaken prior to carbonization. Called ‘affination’, this process involves the raw sugar being mixed with a high sucrose syrup to form a mix called magma. This magma is sent into a centrifugal chamber, a chamber which spins at very high speeds. As the magma is spun, it separates into liquid and solid components. The solid components are sucrose crystals, and the liquid is made up of everything else in the magma. The sucrose crystals still contain a level of contamination however, and are a brown color, but the bulk of the brown sticky mess which characterizes raw sugar is left in the liquid drawn off during affination, and is known as molasses.

The sucrose crystals are gathered after affination and then sent on to the next stage of the refining process, carbonization.

Ironically, those who choose to use ‘brown’ sugar instead of white sugar do consume more additives, as most brown sugar is simply large crystal white sugar with colorants added. Brown sugar is not to be confused with consumable raw sugar, which is a brown color, but which usually has a completely different texture, ranging from crunchy to crumbly, and has a unique flavor which is due to the molasses still being part of the sugar. Consumable raw sugars do contain more healthy ingredients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, but they must also undergo various purification processes in order to make them safe for consumption.


Demystifying Proof of Product. Special Report on Proof of Product for Traders. The purpose of this report is simple, and short.

To familiarize yourself, with some critical concepts that will shed light on the matter of “proof of product”, and put it to rest – for good.

 Often similar requests will be seen, for example a buyer might want “verifiable pop from seller’s banks for verification” or “This is why my buyer is careful.. He asks for POP and certificate of origin authorizing to sell our side.” or a similar variant.

What does this all mean for you? A catch 22. On the one hand the buyer states what they claim to be a reasonable request – “we need some assurance, we don’t want to deal with time wasters, how do we know what you are selling is real? But on the other hand, basically what their buyer is asking for is information that can and usually will lead to circumvention.

This is not to accuse the buyer’s agents directly of attempting circumvention, but either his buyer wanted reassurance that he’s not dealing with utter jokers – there is a contingency in FTN’s procedures that addresses this – or he wants to circumvent the seller entirely and directly purchase from the supplier, which obviously cannot be allowed to occur.

In Short: the buyer’s agent was politely advised that our group has our own specific procedures regarding what some called “Proof of Product”, these procedures allowing our principal (in this case FTN Exporting) to demonstrate what is termed PPI: Policy Proof of (Product) Interest. PPI is an old marine insurance term, Policy Proof of interest establishes an insurable interest in the matter being insured, here goods, where the actual real interest held by the party is somewhat vague.

The Policy itself becomes documentary proof of a party’s interest in the goods being insured, in effect.

A party may have some real, actual, but difficult to define interest in a body of goods – for example the party may not be the actual title holder of the goods but may have an assurance to purchase that specific consignment or the goods are consigned to her for a further consignee down the line.

These are actual interests and if the goods are destroyed the parties undertake losses on these goods based on the nature of their interests. In effect a PPI policy protected documentary interests of a party in the goods being insured on the stated face of their assurance of interests held.

In any case, here buyers want a fair verification of a seller’s legal authority and ability to re-sell the specific products. Such verifications may include such matters as allocation numbers, and contact information for plant, refinery personnel to be contacted in verifying such matters.

This verification is not truly “POP” e.g. Proof of Product – POP is an idiotic term and highly misunderstood in application and essence. Misconceptions that exist include:

Myth: Banks can provide Proof of Product.

Well no, they cannot. Banks deal in finance, not in contracts or in underlying obligations in contracts. This is explicitly delineated in several international edicts.

Frequently brokers ask for, or offer “POP to bank” in other words sending POP documents to the buyer’s bank, or having their bank advise POP documents.

The operative psychology being this way of thinking, is the assumption that Banks have some official, though ill defined, capacity to vet and examine deals, or to provide confidential information, as couriers, and so on.

Only in James Bond movies. Not in real life.

– Myth: Proof of Product Exists.

Well no, technically speaking, it does not. Often people have little idea what they are talking about in such matters. You might see the phrase “partial POP” pop up here and there, in the banker of confused intermediaries. Look at the matter logically, how can proof of product be partial?

Further, what sort of documents establishes “partial POP” and what sort of documents establish “full POP”? One intermediary approached us with goods he wanted to sell, offering us “Soft POP” – well what exactly does he mean by soft POP? How can POP be soft or hard, Proof of product, one presumes, is proof of product – the idea of such proof being soft or hard does not enter the picture. One wonders, what’s the history of the usage of terms like “Soft POP”

If Soda Pop is generated with hard water, then one can be sure that it is not Soft Pop,

Coca Cola can certainly never be Soft Pop due to its phosphoric acid content, seriously – what in the dickens are people talking about?

Do they even know, or do the words just tumble out in some inchoate order?

Terms like “Partial POP versus Full POP” are made up terms, without currency whatsoever in the real world of physical commodity trading.

On a purely logical basis, how in the world can you give someone “partial proof of product?”

This business is about documents and procedures, pure and simple.

Such documents must be excellently and clearly produced, underlying and supporting strictly adhered to procedures. Definitions therein must be clear and understood, and either spread by established custom or by international edict.

Typical of procedures some brokers resort to: “POP: Must include product receipts. Buyer will not issue a financial instrument before verifying product receipts. Payment by

MT103/23 against product receipts.

Another misguided example: “Sellers Banker confirms contract and sends POP via SWIFT with Full Bank Responsibility, Buyer responds with DLC.” (we think) there is the ambiguity, what in the world does “with Full Bank Responsibility” mean? Banks are never, ever, ever responsible for the underlying products or contractual commitments of their clients. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. Banks deal in finance and financial documents, period.

As for paying by MT – SWIFT MT code are end users transparent.

No one really refers to payment by MT codes, unless they are bankers, sitting around in a Telex room. SWIFT MT codes are for banks not traders. The only people in the world running around throwing around MT codes as if to make a transaction sound more impressive are ill informed intermediaries and brokers.

More to the case, what do receipts really establish? Other than giving away immediately an intermediary’s undisclosed principal without any quid pro quo on the side of the buyer?

Anyone fool hardy enough to do this should at least insist on some sort of Performance

Guarantee (PB) from the buyer ensuring that if such documents prove authentic the buyer has a certain number of days to lodge payment lest forfeiting the Performance Guarantee.

None of this is “rocket science” they represent a distillation of the essential fundamentals of normative trade between corporate and bank entities.

You have a choice – trade right, or do not trade at all.

In reality there is no standard full or partial, hard or soft, POP documents in the trade. In reality there is no way to provide Proof of Product because of the nature of trade.