Ragus, an independent importer and manufacturer of sugar products, has announced it is to open a new multi-million-pound factory in autumn 2012.

The firm, which supplies over 20,000 m/t to the baking industry alone, will build the new 35,240sq ft facility on the Slough Trading Estate, where it has been based since 1928.

Director Ben Eastick told British Baker the new refinery would enable the firm to double its output from 25,000 to 50,000 tonnes per year in addition to reducing emissions and providing other ’green’ benefits. "One of the main things is that it will allow us to store a lot more raw material and finished goods, which, in light of the current supply issues with sugar, is going to be really key for us."

Eastick said that, to date, the firm has kept its head "below the parapet", but the recent deregulation of the sugar regime has given it the opportunity to spread its wings.

Ragus supplies sugar products such as golden syrups, treacle and molasses, as well as crystalline sugars raw cane and soft brown sugars, and custom blends, to the baking industry, which accounts for around 75% of its turnover. The EU CAP Reforms have allowed Ragus to source more raw sugar direct from the plantations to meet the growing demand for specialised sugars.

Eastick said the firm currently has a 35%-plus share of the specialist sugars market 70% of which is syrups. "We don’t produce any white sugar. We buy in purely raw sugar, and batch-process it to manufacture specialities and, when we’re in the new refinery, it’s going to be even more efficient for us to do that."

The new refinery will feature advanced machinery for the drying, sieving, screening, blending and bagging of sugars, as well as nine syrup inversion pans and 16 syrup holding tanks, with room for future expansion, revealed the firm.