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Alessandro Magno

327 b.c.

Alessandro the Great discovered sugar during his conquest of India. His soldiers took sugar to Persia and afterwards the Arabs started cultivating sugar cane both in Egypt and across the whole Mediterranean area.

Cane sugar production – Sicilia XVI secolo

966 b.c.

Sugar was transported for the first time from Alexandria to Venice; the Italian city would remain the main sugar trading platform until the beginning of massive imports from America.

Franz Karl Achard (1753 – 1821)


The German pharmacist Margraff discovered the presence of sucrose in beets. A few years later, his apprentice, Franz Karl Achard, came up with a possible commercial application of this discovery.

Camille Pissarro – Factory painting

Anno 1801

The first sugar factory opened in Kernen, Silesia. Although it would be still premature to define sugar production as a successful business, sugar importers reacted swiftly in order to suppress the new born industry, offering Achard large sums of money which he repeatedly turned down.

Napoleone Bonaparte

19th Century

During the enforcement of his Continental System, Napoleon supported studies into the extraction of sugar from beets with grants and by opening “imperial factories”. By the end of the System the cultivation of sugar beet had reached its maximum extent, especially in Austria and Germany.

Sugar diffusion in Italy

Decreto del Vicerè

27 Settembre 1811


A decree established that the four sugar factories that produced the highest quantity of sugar extracted from beet, would be granted 50,000 Lire each. In the same year the first Italian sugar factory was set up in Borgo S. Domino (PR) and a further three almost simultaneously in Genoa, Turin and Verona.

Evolution of train connection


This year marked the real development of the Italian sugar industry, following a crisis in the American plantations, the development of the train network between Northern and Southern Europe, and a policy of protection, with the imposition of import duties on sugar cane.

Zuccherificio Foligno

End of 19th Century

The optimal political and economic conditions of this period give an important boost to the growth of industrial initiatives in various sectors, marking the first successes of the Italian sugar industry.

Evolution of the Italian Sugar Industry