Sugar Industry

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sugar Industry


a branch of the food-processing industry comprising specialized enterprises that manufacture white granulated sugar from sugar beets and refined sugar from granulated sugar. Sugarcane is the principal raw material used in sugar processing in tropical and subtropical countries. In the USSR the output of the sugar industry is very important in the commodity turnover. Sugar is directly consumed by the public and is used in many branches of the food-processing industry.

The production of sugar from sugarcane was known in antiquity. Sugar was first industrially produced in the 16th century in India. In Russia the sugar industry originated in the early 18th century, when the first sugar refinery was opened in St. Petersburg (1719). The refinery processed imported raw cane sugar. In Russia and Germany sugar was first produced from sugar beets in the early 19th century. The Russian sugar industry was highly centralized and was one of the first branches of industry to develop large-scale monopolistic associations. Before World War I, Russia was second, after Germany, in world beet-sugar production.

During World War I and the Civil War of 1918–20, beet cultivation and the sugar industry completely collapsed. The industry was restored in the late 1920’s. In the 1935–36 season the USSR was first in world beet-sugar production. By the 1940–41 season, the industry produced 1.6 times more than it did in 1913–14.

Sugar-processing enterprises were severely damaged by fascist German troops during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, with 204 factories disabled or completely destroyed. The enterprises were quickly restored to service as territory was liberated from the fascist German occupiers, and in a short time the 1940 sugar-production levels were surpassed (see Table 1).

Table 1. Production of granulated sugar from sugar beets and of refined sugar in the USSR (tons)
YearGranulated sugarRefined sugar

In the USSR the production of granulated sugar from beets and imported raw sugar totaled 6.363 million tons in 1960, 10.221 million tons in 1970, and 9.446 million tons in 1974. Per capita sugar production in 1974 totaled 37 kg, of which 31 kg was derived from beets.

World sugar production in terms of raw sugar in the 1974–75 season totaled 87.4 million tons, of which 29.8 million tons was beet sugar and 57.6 million tons was cane sugar. The USSR accounted for approximately 30 percent of the world beet-sugar production.

Between 1946 and 1974, 140 new sugar factories were constructed in the USSR, while the production equipment and facilities of existing factories were renewed. In the same period, the beet-processing capacity increased by a factor of 3.8. In early 1975, there were 318 beet-sugar factories, processing 697,000 tons of beets daily, and 14 independent sugar refineries and 12 factory-connected refining facilities, producing 9,300 tons of refined sugar daily.

During the years of Soviet power, substantial changes have also taken place in the geographic distribution of sugar-processing enterprises. In prerevolutionary Russia the sugar industry was largely concentrated in the Ukraine and in the central chernozem provinces. In the USSR commercial beet cultivation and the sugar industry have been developed in many new areas, including the Kirghiz SSR, the Kazakh SSR, the Byelorussian SSR, the Georgian SSR, the Armenian SSR, Siberia, and the Volga Region. The most important sugar-processing enterprises are the Lokhvitsa (Poltava Oblast) and Pervomais-koe (Nikolaev Oblast) beet-sugar factories and the Krasnaia Zvezda (in the city of Sumy) and Odessa refineries.

In 1974,3.61 million hectares of commercial sugar beets were under cultivation.

Sugar production is carried out as a mechanized continuous-action process, whose major operations are highly automated.

The sugar industry is closely associated with other branches of the economy. The development of beet growing and beet-sugar production has had a positive influence on agriculture. Wastes generated by the sugar industry are used in livestock breeding and as fertilizer. In turn, the efficiency of beet-sugar production greatly depends on the cost, sugar content, and other technical properties of the beets that determine the sugar yield. Many sugar factories have established subsidiary industries that reprocess wastes; these industries include those producing alcohol, bakers’ yeast, food acids, and dried pulp. Other subsidiary industries may share a sugar factory’s power, water supply, connecting railroad lines, or other facilities; these subsidiary industries include milk-canning enterprises, cheese plants, meat-packing combines, and establishments producing canned fruit and green peas.

The most important technical trends in sugar processing in the USSR include the comprehensive mechanization and automation of production, the improvement of methods used to store and process beets in order to increase sugar yields, and the installation of new, high-capacity equipment.

The sugar industry has also developed significantly in other socialist countries. In 1974 the production of granulated sugar from domestic raw sugar totaled 340,000 tons in Bulgaria, 267,000 tons in Hungary, 652,000 tons in the German Democratic Republic, 1.467 million tons in Poland, 516,000 tons in Rumania, 821,000 tons in Czechoslovakia, 462,000 tons in Yugoslavia, and 5.2 million tons in Cuba (1973).

In the 1974–75 season the largest producers of raw sugar from beets among the capitalist countries were France (2.9 million tons), the USA (2.8 million tons), the Federal Republic of Germany (2.4 million tons), Italy (1 million tons), the Netherlands (800,000 tons), and Great Britain (600,000 tons). In the same season the largest producers of raw cane sugar were Brazil (7.9 million tons), India (4.3 million tons), Australia (2.9 million tons), Mexico (2.8 million tons), the Philippines (2.5 million tons), and the USA (2.2 million tons).


Zotov, V. P. Pishchevaia promyshlennost’ Sovetskogo Soiuza. Moscow, 1958.
Silin, P. M. Tekhnologiiasakhara, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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