Submitted to: International Sugar Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2007
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Citation: Eggleston, G., Salassi, M., Richard, E., Birkett, H. 2007. Sustainability of the Sugar Industry: Future Value Addition from Sugarcane. International Sugar Journal. 109(1303):415-432. Interpretive Summary: This paper represents a comprehensive review of the future sustainability of the sugarcane industry. With changing sugar markets in the U.S. and around the world, innovation and environmental protection through value addition and diversification will be crucial for the sustainability of the sugarcane industry. Increasing use of biotechnological methods to add special functionalities to sucrose will occur. In the future, the sugar industry should be regarded a biomass-based industry that is not only equipped to manufacture products for the food sector, but also value-added biofuels, energy, and chemicals for the non-food sector.
Technical Abstract: With changing sugar markets in the U.S. and around the world, innovation and environmental protection through value-addition and diversification will be crucial for the sustainability of the sugarcane industry. Commercial sucrose has very high purity (>99.9%) making it the purest organic substance produced on an industrial scale. Several value-added commodity products are currently produced from sucrose by chemical or biotechnological derivitization. These products include oligo- and polysaccharides for specialty markets, surfactands and citric, gluconic, and lactic acids for the food sector. Increasing use of biotechnological methods to derivatize the sucrose molecule is envisaged, to add special functionalities to the sucrose products like biodegradability, biocompatibility, and non-toxicity, which are becoming important in the emerging bio-economy. The sugarcane industry is currently faced with the reality that sugar, molasses, and bagasse can no longer be regarded as the final products of a factory or refinery. Instead, the sugar industry should be regarded as a biomass-based industry that is not only equipped to manufacture products for the food sector, but also value-added biofuels, energy, and chemicals for the non-food sector. Sugarcane fits well into the emerging concept of a renewable carbohydrate feedstock because of its availability, and because it is amongst the plants giving the highest yields of carbohydrates per hectare. Commercialization of value-added products of sugarcane, such as fuel ethanol will depend mostly on economic factors, such as government subsidies.