Contrary to popular perception, sugar is really good for health. It is in fact as good as any other carbohydrate, which gets partially converted into glucose when consumed. Glucose, when absorbed into the bloodstream, leads to the production of energy. Diabetes is not the result of sugar intake but of the inability of the pancreas to manufacture sufficient insulin, though the problem does get aggravated with the intake of sugar, or for that matter of any carbohydrate, by those already suffering from the disease.
Colour and size of the granules are the two key parameters in the gradation of sugar. ICUMSA is the international yardstick for rating of sugar, based on the colour and lustre of the grains. In the Indian system, the sugar rating is assigned numbers based on colour and lustre, with number 29 referring to the inferior or duller coloured sugar, and going up to 30 and 31 to indicate brighter colour. The classification based on granule size is listed in India as S (small), M (medium) and L (large).
The brown sugar (smack), a dangerous narcotic drug, has no co-relation with the normal white sugar. It tastes quite bitter and there is, in fact, nothing sugary about brown sugar.
The normal white crystal sugar is manufactured using vacuum pans for crystallizing and granulizing the sugar syrup, leading to the formation of brittle but reasonably hard granules which are difficult to crush. Khandasari sugar, however, is manufactured using open pans and is hardly brittle, enabling easy crushing. On the flip side, impurities are not completely removed in Khandasari sugar.
The percentage of Indian consumers opting for sugar cubes or branded sugar is very small and concentrated in a few metropolitan towns. The reason lies in the high cost of branded sugar, which is the result of the exorbitant packing cost and the vagaries of the excise law in India. So you won’t find many connoisseurs of sugar in India, with very few people showing any brand loyalty for this necessary commodity.
The cyclic nature of the sugar industry causes production of the commodity to fluctuate widely, year on year. These fluctuations in production of sugar, domestically and globally, lead to huge price swings, since sugar price, as expected, is inversely proportional to the production of sugar. Another factor determining the sugar price is the quantum of sugar released into the market. In India, for instance, the release of sugar is controlled by the government.
Actually, sugar quality standards are more or less uniform across the world, causing the sweetness levels also to be uniform. The only reason for Indian sugar to taste sweeter than sugar from some other countries is that it is made of sugarcane, unlike some other countries which manufacture sugar with sugar beet. Sugarcane has a higher level of sucrose content, causing it to taste sweeter.