3. Apr 2023 | Nature

Hokkaido Trivia – Sugar Beets

I have 2 jars of sugar in my kitchen cupboard. One is in lighter shade of brown and the other in darker shade. Both are unrefined sugars made from sugar beet and sugar cane, respectively.  I prefer to use them because of the rich minerals that the unrefined sugars have.

In Japan sugar is made from (1) domestic sugar beets from Hokkaido (2) domestic sugar canes from Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures and (3) imported raw sugar. Although, globally, sugar cane is much more famous as sugar ingredients, in Japan, it only shares 20% of the entire sugar ingredients that are grown domestically. 80% is made from sugar beet.

In contrast to sugar canes that grow in warm regions, sugar beet is grown in cold regions such as Europe. In Japan, it’s only grown in Hokkaido and is one of Hokkaido’s 3 main agricultural products. In Hokkaido, sugar beet is an essential agricultural product not only in terms of revenue but also as one of the rotary-products that protect the fields from disease caused by single-cropping. 

A new farming season will start very shortly for sugar beet in Hokkaido. If you drive along the fields, you’ll recognize them easily since sugar beet, that belongs to the spinach family, looks exactly like spinach leaves! 

Knowing about agricultural products can make your driving activities in Hokkaido much more interesting. After all, the farmlands make up most of the scenic views in Hokkaido!

sugar beet that belongs to the
spinach family