With the rise in awareness of nutritional content, provenance and sustainability of food, more people than ever seem to care about the food they eat and want to know how it was grown, harvested, processed and handled. Our customers, big and small, look to Sunshine Sugar to feel confident that they are sourcing sugar that is grown by Australian canegrowers and ethically produced.

With our growers sharing in the ownership of the milling and refining operations, Sunshine Sugar has a full view of the Paddock to Pack process for every crystal of sugar we make and sell.

Our process

Sugar Farming Cycle

Sugar cane is planted during Spring by burying short sections of cane stalk, called billets. With the aid of GPS guidance, a mechanical planter buries the billets in rows. With the addition of fertiliser, sun and rain – the sugar cane plant uses the natural process of photosynthesis to grow, absorb carbon and produce sucrose and nutrients. It will regrow after harvesting and can produce 3-4 crops before it needs to be replanted.

Harvesting occurs between June and December each year.

With much of the sugarcane grown in NSW harvested at two-years old, it is heavy with leaf matter. This leaf matter is removed by burning the crop prior to harvesting to make cutting and processing the stalks possible.

Cane fires are permitted in NSW and are carried out with great care.

A mechanical harvester cuts the stalks at ground level, chopping them into billets and feeding them into a haul-out buggy. The haul-out buggy takes the harvested cane to a delivery pad where it is loaded into special-purpose bins that hold up to 27 tonnes of cane. When full, these bins are transported by road to the sugar mill.

Raw Sugar Process

On arrival at the sugar mill, the cane is weighed, tipped and fed through a shredder, reducing the billets to a fibrous mass that passes through a series of crushing mills to extract the juice. The juice from the first crushing mill is analysed to measure its sugar content. The remaining fibre is called bagasse (pronounced ba-gas). This is used as fuel for the boiler that provides steam to power the mill.

Extracted sugar juice is heated, has lime added and is clarified to remove impurities. These impurities are rich in nutrients, so they are recycled back to local cane fields as fertiliser.

The clarified juice is then concentrated into a syrup and converted to crystal sugar. Sugar crystals are separated from the syrup in centrifuges that spin at high speed. While spinning, the sugar is given a short burst of hot water to help wash off sticky molasses. The raw sugar is dried in rotating dryers, ready for storage or transportation.

The clarified juice is then concentrated into a syrup and converted to crystal sugar. Sugar crystals are separated from the syrup in centrifuges that spin at high speed. While spinning, the sugar is given a short burst of hot water to help wash off sticky molasses. The raw sugar is dried in rotating dryers, ready for storage or transportation.

Refined Sugar Process

The refining process is where raw sugar is further purified to produce clean, white sugar crystals. Raw sugar is mixed with warm sugar syrup and centrifuged to separate the crystals. The crystals are dissolved to remove any final impurities before flowing through filters. At this point, a clear, golden-coloured liquid is passed through ion-exchange columns and a white syrup is produced. This syrup is seeded with fine sugar crystals and when large enough, both the crystals and syrup are spun through a set of centrifuges to separate out the crystals. The refined sugar is dried and then graded ready for bagging and delivery to customers – whether in small packs, bulk bags or tankers.

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