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Sugar Beet

Overview

With firm roots in the territories in which it operates, Tereos unites 12,000 French cooperative partners around one shared long-term vision: adding value to agricultural raw materials and helping to develop high-quality food products worldwide.

As the second largest European processor of sugar beet, Tereos processes 19.8 million metric tons of sugar beets to produce +2 millions metric tons of sugar and 675,000 m3 of alcohol and ethanol in twelve sugar factories and eight distilleries in France, the Czech Republic, Romania and one refinery in Spain.

A member of the Chenopodiaceae family, the sugar beet is a plant that doesn't just produce sugar.

Profile

The leaves of the sugar beet plant are its 'chemical laboratory' where it makes the sugar which is stored in its roots.  The seeds are sown in March and the harvest (or 'campaign') lasts from mid-September to the end of December. 
Beets are weighed and sampled to assess their sugar content in order to calculate the payment to the farmer. They are then washed and cut into thin strips and passed under hot running water to extract the sugar. 
The resulting liquid is purified and filtered and then concentrated into syrup form by evaporation, with a sugar content of 65%. It is then boiled under vacuum to trigger crystallization. The cooked mass is finally passed through centrifuges to remove liquid and retain crystallized white sugar.

Products

Sugar: sugar beet, along with sugarcane, is one of the two main sources of sucrose worldwide. Sugar refined from beets is sold to consumers, wholesalers and also to industry.

Alcohol: is produced by fermenting sugar beet substrates. The product is then rectified to produce high-purity alcohol, or rectified and dehydrated to obtain pure alcohol.

Bioethanol: is produced from sugar beet juice,  and thus known as conventional ethanol. It can also be produced from the sugar residue, in which case it is known as molasses, which enables an advanced ethanol to be produced. By its very nature this ethanol does not compete with any food production.  On the contrary, it complements production of a staple food – sugar.

Pulp: the fibers resulting from juice extraction are used as food for livestock.

Biogas and vinasse: these arise from a methanization process.

  • Production of biogas => used to fuel boilers, it reduces the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere and facilitates energy savings.
  • Recovery of methanized vinasse after concentration => this has a higher potash fertilizing value than the usual vinasse now has.

Yield

80 t/ha of sugar beets on average yield around 13 t/ha of sugar, i.e. 1.3 kg of sugar per square meter. One metric ton of beets produces 90 to 100 liters of alcohol on average. France is the world’s leading producer of sugar beet sugar.