Sunset over a sugar field

Sustainable sugar production

Ensuring sustainability

Sugar farmers and producers recognize the importance of sustainable and responsible agriculture and production. Farmers can employ a range of methods to ensure sugar production is sustainable, such as:

  • Crop rotation which involves alternating the cultivation of sugar crops with different plants, to maintain soil health.
  • Using natural pest management strategies such as biological controls, natural predators, and resistant crop varieties.
  • Utilising precision agriculture, where technology is harnessed to optimize resource use. For example, GPS-guided tractors and drones can be used for precise planting, watering, and harvesting. 

Sustainable production of sugar and its co-products

Sugar cane and sugar beet are most often used to produce sucrose, which is what we know as sugar. But these crops can also be used to produce a range of other sugar products.  
When producing sugar, 100% of the cane and beet are used, so that there is almost no waste from the production process. 

The by-products of sugar production are molasses and pulp.



Is the runoff syrup from the final stage of sugar crystallisation, from which no more sugar crystals can be produced. Molasses, from both cane and beet sugar production, is predominantly used for animal feed production and by fermentation industries. However, as it still contains sugar, it is also a versatile baking ingredient and can be used in recipes such as gingerbread and fruit cakes. Molasses can be distilled into ethanol which is then sold to various sectors including fuel, beverages, personal care and chemical production companies.


The plant material that the sucrose is removed from - is also produced during the sugar production process. Cane and beet pulp can be dried and mixed with molasses as a fertilizer or as animal feed or fibre, among other uses (1). Pulp can also be used for paper and cardboard manufacturing, building materials, as an alternative to plastics, and as biofuel for the co-production of heat, electricity and other forms of energy (1). The pulp from sugar cane crops is known as bagasse.


  1. Annegowda H.V., & Majumder P. Valuable bioactives from vegetable wastes. In: Bhat R (ed) Valorization of Agri-Food Wastes and By-Products (chapter 5) Academic Press. 2021. ISBN 9780128240441.