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Sensory Differences between Product Matrices Made with Beet and Cane Sugar Sources

Lauren Baker
Madonna University

Sugar is a huge staple in the American lifestyle (2). From processed food to fresh baked
goods, sugar is abundant. Many people bake and use sugar on a daily basis (2). When venturing
into the supermarket, there are many different types of sugar available for consumer
consumption. With so many choices most consumers do not know the difference between them.
Within the United States, the main source of sugar produced is from sugarcane which is known
as cane sugar and the second main source of sugar is from sugar beets which is known as beet
Two sugars that have similar chemical compositions, yet are different in their behaviors
and appearance during baking are beet and cane sugar (1). Both of these sugars are the main
sources of table sugar also known as sucrose (1). Consumers can buy either cane or beet sugar
depending on their preference (if they have one),but usually it is based solely on price. The
consumer and food manufacturing industry can benefit from the research article Sensory
Differences between Product Matrices Made with Beet and Cane Sugar Sources for a couple
important reasons. First, the amount of information depicting the differences between beet and
cane sugar is minimal (3). Until recently, no one has tried to separate the two sugars into their
own individual categories. It is possible that one of the sugars could potentially be a better buy
when it comes to baking, while the other could be better in drinks or cooking. The second reason
as to why this research is important is because the price of either beet or cane sugar determines
which one is used in food manufacturing (1). Food manufacturers want a quality ingredient to
put into their product, but they want to keep the expenses relatively low to make a profit. If there
were blatant sensory differences between the two sugars, food manufacturing could use one over
the other and potentially create better quality food products while still maintaining a low cost.

Now that research is becoming available and more studies are being done, an informative
decision between beet and cane sugar can be made.
From the research article stated above, the hypothesis that was proposed was that a food
tester could determine the difference between beet and cane sugar when given different products
(1). Beet and cane sugar were the tested ingredients in a variety of products. The products that
were made using beet and cane sugars were pavlova (dessert filled with a merging base), a
simple syrup, sugar cookies, pudding, whipped cream, and iced tea (1). The studys control group
was C&H sugar which is a type of cane sugar (1). The control group was duplicated in each
product to give two types of cane sugar versus two types of beet sugar. The other types of sugars
that were used were United Sugar Corp. cane sugar, Pioneer Sugar (beet sugar), and United
Sugar Corp. beet sugar (1). To measure the sensory differences between the sugars a R-index
was used (1). A R-index is a ranking procedure that allows the food tester to compare a control
group to each variable presented.
In order to get a reliable outcome, each product was made four times with the four
different sugars plus an additional fifth batch for the control group. One baker prepared and
baked the batches for each food product. Each batch was prepared in the exact same way as the
previous batch. All ingredients were pre-weighed, put into the mixer in the same order, and each
batter was stirred and baked the same length of time. Once the food products were ready, food
testers were brought in the following day and placed in a booth separate from the other testers
(1). The environment was controlled by the researchers to keep the testers focused on the food
and flavor. In eight sessions of twenty minute intervals, the food samples were placed in front of
the food testers to be ranked (1). Each product was to be sampled in the order they were given,
then ranked one through four (1). One represented being most like the control, while four

represented being the least like the control (1). After one full day of testing, the results were
tallied and analyzed. In regards to the hypothesis, the data concluded that the hypothesis was
partially right.
As previously stated, the hypothesis proposed that testers would be able to differentiate
between beet and cane sugar when given six different types of food products. According to the
data, testers were able to differentiate beet and cane sugar that was put into the simple syrup and
pavlova (1). When it came to the sugar cookies, pudding, iced tea and whipped cream, the food
testers were able to determine that there was a difference between the control (C&H sugar) and
the batches (1). However, they were unable to determine the difference between each of the
sample batches. Through the researchers testing, they were able to discern that aroma played a
factor in differentiating the flavors (1). Beet sugars naturally stale odor could have been a factor
in discerning between beet and cane sugar (4).
Being able to decipher the difference better beet and cane sugar was the purpose of this
study and all the research done. Food testers were only able to discern between beet and cane
sugar of the simple syrup and pavlova batches. The researchers went a step further to investigate
why testers could distinguish the sugars in those two food products, but not the others. The
researchers figured that a variety of factors contributed to the distinction. The factors that could
have been present were the food testers themselves; their mood, their likes and dislikes, etc., the
environment the testers were placed in, and how the researchers set up and ran the experiment
(1). All of these factors varied from person to person even though the researchers tried their best
to make each individual taste testing identical.
After the researchers determined the factors involved, they thought that it could be
possible that the way each sugar interacted with certain ingredients had more of an impact on

sensory characteristics than the individual sugar themselves (1). They compared the different
batches of pavlova for texture and consistency. What they found was that the pavlova made with
beet sugar was much more fluffy than the pavlova made with cane sugar which was crunchy (1).
Although this was not a part of their initial testing and has not been validated by an additional
experiment, it does give the inclination that sensory differences exist. The sensory differences
that exist are not from the sugar flavoring alone, but rather a combination of physical and
chemical properties that are changed due to mixing with other ingredients and temperature of
In conclusion, when it comes to sensory differences between beet and cane sugar, the
experiment that was done did not produce enough valid data to signify a major difference.
However, the experiment did bring about potential studies that can be done to differentiate
sensory characteristics between beet and cane sugar. The study did prove that this experiment
produced value to the consumers and the food manufacturing industry. It is valuable to those who
buy sugar because there are sensory differences between sugars. The sensory characteristics may
not change the flavor of a product, but there is a possibility it could change the texture,
consistency, or length of time that a product is cooked and/or baked at. With that in mind,
consumers and even food manufacturers should take more time finding out which sugar is best
for what they are going to produce. If a product is improved in quality, takes less time to
produce, and the flavor does not change, then price should not be a determining factor. This
research is just the beginning of finding sensory differences between beet and cane sugar. It will
not be long now until there is distinguishing differences between the sugars and consumers can
become educated on them.

Lauren Baker: Sensory Differences between Product Matrices Made with Beet and Cane Sugar
1. Lee SY, Schmidt SJ, Urbanus BL. Sensory Differences between Product Matrices Made with
Beet and Cane Sugar Sources. Journal of Food Science. 2014;79:S2354-S2361.
2. Cook A, Haley S, Lin BH, Reed J. Sweetner Consumption in the United States: Distribution
by Demographic and Product Characteristics. Outlook. 2005;SSS-243-01:1-19.
3. Cox GO, Eklund EJ, Ickes CM, Lee SY, Schmidt SJ, Urbanus BL. Sensory Differences
between Beet and Cane Sugar Sources. Journal of Food Science. 2014;79:S1763-S1768
4. Lee SY, Schmidt SJ, Urbanus BL. Does Information about Sugar Source Influence Consumer
Liking of Products Made with Beet and Cane Sugars?. Journal of Food Science.