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Chelsea Sugar Factory

What colour is the factory in Birkenhead?

From afar, some people say the factory looks pink.  In fact, it's not "pink" - it's "Resene Tuscan Red", a change plotted by board member Sir Michael Fowler in the early 90s to replace the patchwork of green and brown buildings. 

Where did Chelsea Sugar get its name from?

The name "Chelsea" came from the first customs officer at New Zealand Sugar, who named it after his home town in England - Chelsea. 

Health Related

How many calories does sugar have?

One teaspoon, or 4g of sugar, has 68kJ. 

Does sugar cause tooth decay? Sugars and cooked starches (bread, pasta) are fermentable carbohydrates that can increase the risk of tooth decay. Bacteria on the teeth can breakdown fermentable carbohydrates to produce acid, which can eventually lead to tooth decay or caries, without proper oral hygiene, especially fluoride toothpaste. The frequency or how often sugars and starches are consumed is also important when considering risk of tooth decay. There are many factors linked to risk of tooth decay, other than just what we eat and drink. These include the flow of saliva in the mouth, how long food stays in the mouth, whether teeth are regularly cleaned and if they are exposed to fluoride. Find out more.
What are the sugar alternatives?

Because sugar not only provides sweetness but also functional properties, there is no complete sugar alternative but there are alternative sweeteners.  There are sweeteners that occur naturally and can be extracted to produce a concentrated extract, such as Stevia and monk fruit extract..  There are also nutritive sweeteners such as isomalt, , maltodextrin, polydextrose, erythritol, lactitol, mannitol, xylitol and sorbitol. Artificial low calorie sweeteners include aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, advantame, and thaumatin.


What is sugar?

Sugar is a carbohydrate that is created naturally in all fruits and vegetables. It is produced during the process of photosynthesis by which plants capture sunlight and convert it into food and energy. As a member of the carbohydrate family, sugar is a safe and natural source of energy that helps make food enjoyable to eat.

How is sugar made?


Sugar cane is crushed to extract the juice, this is boiled to thicken it and the sugar crystallizes from this to produce Raw Sugar solution.


The sugar is washed, redissolved, filtered, carbon decolourisation and recrystallised, which produces the many Chelsea Sugar products available today. Take a tour of the factory and see how sugar is made.

How does sugar arrive in New Zealand? Milled, raw sugar is imported in bulk. Once it arrives at the Chelsea refinery the raw sugar is washed, redissolved, filtered and recrystallised. This produces the white refined sugar we are most familiar with. Some of our specialised products such as Chelsea Organic Sugar are imported in 25kg bags and repacked into retail packs on site.
Where do you source the sugar from? Raw sugar is sourced from quality sources around the world including Australia, Thailand, South Africa and South America. We only source from reputable suppliers. The Wilmar International sustainability statement can be viewed here:
Does sugar contain preservatives or other additives? No, sugar is pure sucrose, it contains no preservatives or additives of any kind.
Is the sugar genetically modified? We do not source genetically modified raw sugar.
Do you use bone char or any animal products? There are no animal products used in the process of sugar production. We use activated carbon sourced from coal, which acts as a filter similar to the filters used in water purifiers.
Are Chelsea Sugars and Syrups suitable for vegetarians and vegans? Nearly all of our sugar and syrups are suitable for vegetarians and vegans - the exception is our Honey Maple Flavoured Syrup which contains honey extract, making this not suitable for vegans. No animal products are used in the production of Chelsea Sugar.
Does your company conduct any animal testing on your final products or product ingredients? No
Does your company pay anyone else to conduct any animal testing on your final products or product ingredients? No
Do any of your products contain palm oil? No
Are your products Kosher and Halaal? Many of our products are certified as Kosher and Halaal, these include:
White Sugar, Soft Brown Sugar, Caster Sugar, Coffee Sugar Crystals, Dark Cane Sugar, Molasses, Golden Syrup, Icing Sugar, Raw Sugar and Treacle.
Is sugar chemically altered or bleached during processing? No, our sugar is not chemically altered and it is definitely not bleached.  The sugar in your sugar bowl is the same as the sucrose naturally present in the sugar cane and is also identical to the sucrose in other fruits and vegetables.  Pure sugar crystals are naturally colourless. No artificial bleaching or whitening is necessary. Molasses, which is naturally present in sugar cane and gives brown sugar its colour, is removed from the sugar crystal with water and centrifuging. Carbon filters absorb any remaining coloured plant materials. See the process
Is Chelsea packaging recyclable? Our White Sugar 1.5kg and 3kg paper packaging is recyclable along with our Golden Syrup tin and plastic syrup bottles. Ideally we'd like to use paper packaging for all our products, however some of our products are unsuitable for paper packaging given their high moisture content. These products require moisture proof packaging to maintain the high product quality we pride ourselves on at Chelsea. Currently we use grade 4 polyethylene film for products that require moisture protection. Grade 4 poly is recyclable, however the facility to recycle it is not yet widely available in New Zealand. We continue to work intensively with our packaging suppliers to reduce our environmental footprint by using only recyclable packaging.
Is your sugar fair trade? Currently no Chelsea Sugar products are certified Fair Trade. However, all of Chelsea Sugar’s unrefined sugar is produced entirely at source putting the value back where it matters most – in the country of origin. We believe this is a fair, responsible and ethical way to trade sugar. More information on fair trade sugar is available at 
What's the difference between Unrefined and Refined Sugar?

“Unrefined” in terms of sugar means that it is still processed, but only into a crystallised form. The difference between refined versus unrefined is that unrefined sugar goes through the minimal amount of processing, within its country of origin, in order to maintain its superior quality.


Product Specific

How does Caster Sugar differ from White Sugar?

Caster Sugar has a smaller crystal size than White Sugar. Caster Sugar is White Sugar that has been sieved through a fine mesh screen. The fine, regular sugar crystals dissolve quickly and caramelise evenly, making Caster Sugar an essential ingredient for the perfect pavlova, light sponge cakes, beverages and dressings.

How does Raw Sugar differ from White Sugar?

Both Raw Sugar and White Sugar are produced by dissolving, filtering and recrystallising the raw sugar received from the sugar mill. White Sugar undergoes additional refining process, it is passed through an activated carbon decolourising station which absorbs the colour from organic matter.

How does Brown Sugar differ from White Sugar? All sugar products in the marketplace differ only in crystal size or molasses content. Molasses adds both colour and flavour. The darker the brown sugar, the more molasses it has.
What’s the difference between Chelsea Dark Cane and Chelsea Soft Brown? These two sugars can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for brown sugar. For a delicate, light, nutty caramel flavour, use Chelsea Soft Brown Sugar. For a rich, old-time molasses taste and deeper colour, use Chelsea Dark Cane Sugar.  Chelsea Dark Cane Sugar contains more dark refinery syrup, which is responsible for the rich molasses taste and darker colour.
Where does Demerara Sugar get its name from? The sugar is named after Demerara in Guyana, the name does not define its origin, but simply a type of golden brown sugar. Today, countries like Mauritius export some of the best Demerara sugar available.
What are the ingredients of Chelsea Golden syrup? Golden Syrup is made from natural raw cane sugar. It is a mixture of sucrose (25-30%), fructose, glucose (45-50%) and 18% water combined with a mineral content that gives it the characteristic flavour and colour.
Can Coeliacs use Chelsea Icing Sugar? Yes, the tapioca starch in Chelsea Icing Sugar is gluten free. There is 3% Tapioca or Maize starch in each pack of Icing Sugar to keep the product free flowing.
What is maple flavour? The Maple Flavour used in Chelsea Maple Syrup and Chelsea Honey Maple Flavoured Syrup is not an artificial flavour, it is classed as a nature-identical flavour.  Nature identical flavours are chemically identical to natural flavours.
What is Molasses? Molasses is a dark, viscous liquid that is a by-product of the sugar production. It is produced when sugar syrup is boiled to get to crystalline form, and in particular, blackstrap molasses is made from the third boiling of sugar syrup.
Is Chelsea Icing Sugar Gluten Free?

Yes, the starch in Chelsea Icing Sugar is tapioca and/or maize, and is gluten free. There is 3% Tapioca starch in each pack of Icing Sugar and maize starch for superfine icing to keep the product free flowing.



What is the shelf life of sugar?

There is no best before date for most sugars, if stored correctly it will last until it is used as it does not support microbial growth. Sugar is best when stored in a cool, dry place.  Please note: Jam Setting Sugar, Chocolate Icing, Vanilla Icing and Berry Icing have a limited shelf life.

What is the best way to store sugar?

Sugar should be stored in an airtight container in a moisture-free environment. When sugar leaves our refinery it is dry and soft. The most frequent cause of hard sugar is that moisture has been absorbed by the sugar and has evaporated off again sticking crystals together. Changes in climate can also affect the consistency of the sugar. (High humidity or dry weather)

Can I store my sugar in the fridge or freezer? Because Sugar has a indefinite shelf life (it does not support microbial growth), it does not need to be frozen to prolong shelf life. By storing it in your fridge or freezer you are exposing it to moisture, the sugar could absorb the moisture and harden. For best results store sugar in an airtight container.
Can I make hardened sugar soft again? Yes, here is a method to soften sugar:  Preheat oven to a low temperature (120°C).  Remove the sugar from the package and put in an ovenproof container that will hold the sugar. Place in the warm oven for approx 15 minutes. Tap sugar with a spoon to test, if it falls apart, turn oven off and leave sugar in the oven for an hour or two to completely dry out.
Is it safe to store the sugar in plastic packaging? It is safe to store your sugar in its original packaging. For best results, ensure the pack is tightly closed, this can be done by folding and securing the top of packaging over.  Alternatively, when you open the package, cut the top of the package open. Keep the top 5cm of plastic package ribbon you have just cut off and use this ribbon to tie around the top of the pack to close it.
Do I need to store my Chelsea Syrup in the refrigerator? Chelsea Golden Syrup, Maple Flavoured Syrup and Honey Maple Flavoured Syrup has to be stored at room temperature. If it is stored in the fridge, your syrup will crystallise.

Baking and Preserving

How do you measure out Golden Syrup?

The easiest way is to use a tablespoon. 1 tablespoon = 25g

How do I measure Golden Syrup without making a mess?

Warm the measuring spoon or cup in hot water before dipping it in the Golden Syrup - the heated utensil ensures the syrup slides off easily.

Can I substitute Easy Pour Golden Syrup for the Golden Syrup tin? The Easy Pour Golden Syrup is lighter in consistency, colour and taste than the Chelsea Golden Syrup Tin, the Chelsea Golden Syrup Easy Pour has a more subtle caramel flavour. Because of the lighter consistency it is not always recommended for baking.
Can honey be used as a substitute for sugar in baking? For best results, it is not recommended that honey is substituted for sugar. It can be substituted for Chelsea Easy Pour Golden Syrup and Chelsea Maple Flavoured Syrup and Chelsea Honey Maple Flavoured Syrup.
Does sugar do anything other than sweeten baked goods? In addition to providing sweetness, sugar adds flavour, bulk, and structure. In cakes without butter, sugar helps delay egg coagulation (keeps the egg from thickening) and allows a cake to set properly. It also retains moisture in baked goods and when heated above its melting point, it caramelizes and takes on an amber colour with a wonderful aroma and flavour. Sugar reacts chemically with proteins during baking and browns the food surface. Higher sugar content in baked goods results in a darker brown surface.
Can Icing Sugar be substituted for White Sugar in recipes? It is not recommended to substitute Icing Sugar for White Sugar as Icing Sugar has a much finer texture and contains a small percentage of starch to prevent caking. Substituting can give you unexpected results.