Leysana Korobeynikova, Deputy Head of Research at UWC, reports on the molasses transportation market.

№ 10 (May) 2019
Лейсана Коробейникова

Stainless steel guarantees that the quality of molasses is preserved during transportation

Leysana Korobeynikova,
Deputy Head of Research at UWC

The glucose syrup market in Russia is enjoying stable growth, and expert forecasts for production in the sector are very positive. Over the last five years, the production of molasses has grown by more than 40% – to 571,000 tons, setting an all-time record almost every year.

From sugar to molasses

The main consumers of molasses, glucose-fructose and other syrups are enterprises which make use of either fermentation processes or sugar in liquid form. These enterprises produce various non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, ice cream, confectionery items and bakery products. Until recently, food manufacturers used sugar, but today an active transition towards molasses and syrups is taking place, since they have a wider application in the production process and are more cost-effective. If the market for molasses was less competitive before, then it can be said that with the growth in demand for products – and the phenomenon of low prices for wheat and corn (the raw materials for molasses) on the domestic market relative to global costs – the number of enterprises producing them has also increased. Accordingly, there has been a significant upswing in the production of molasses and syrups.

Molasses production volume in Russia, thousand t

Molasses production volume in Russia, thousand t

It is expected that the production of molasses will grow further. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation will expand the list of areas eligible for export subsidies in the form of concessional loans which will facilitate the growth. Notably, this will include a provision on the construction, reconstruction and modernisation of enterprises involved in the deep processing of agricultural products.

Growth against growth

As with production volumes, the load of molasses on the rail infrastructure has also increased over the last five years, but only by 25% – to 175,000 tons. The majority of freight traffic is transported by road. The current fleet of rail tank cars for transporting molasses is not only worn out, but also obsolete. Over the past five years, only 30 new cars have been produced, with the overall fleet standing at just over 800 cars. The standard service life of over 20% of the specialized fleet is set to expire before 2024.

Rail freight transportation of molasses in Russia, thousand t

Rail freight transportation of molasses in Russia, thousand t

Furthermore, 60% of the tank cars suitable for transporting molasses are currently being used to transport liquid fertiliser and cannot be repurposed, as molasses is a delicate substance. If the strict rules for loading and transporting molasses are not followed, it can ferment, grow mouldy, absorb foreign odours, and effervesce. 

It is important to note that for the transportation of molasses, stainless steel tank cars are recommended, guaranteeing that the quality of the transported goods will be preserved. Currently, 95% of the Russian fleet of railcars for transporting molasses are made of ordinary carbon (“black”) steel. It is forecast that with the advent of stainless steel railcars on the market, in particular those being produced by UWC, the railway will be able to take on a higher volume of freight for transportation, and molasses manufacturers will be able to access reliable rolling stock, designed to optimise expenditure and preserve the product’s high quality.