ABSugar the ultimate graduate scheme


About us

AB Sugar is one of the largest sugar producers in the world. Employing more than 42,000 employees, operating in 10 countries, with a combined capacity to produce over five million tonnes of sugar annually, and it doesn't stop there! We have diversified geographically with sugar operations in Africa, South Africa, Spain and both North and South China in addition to the UK. As such, we are a core business within Associated British Foods - a diversified, international food, ingredients and retail group with sales of £12.3bn and 106,000 employees in 47 countries.

Our graduates play a key role in helping to achieve our vision - to be the world's leading sugar business. We have a shared purpose to be more than just a group of businesses, and aspire to be a truly international, recognised leader in the sugar industry.

Our commitment to our vision has seen us develop highly integrated manufacturing processes to produce a wide variety of co-products, from alcohol to animal feed, bioethanol to electricity, and tomatoes to soil conditioning products. Our diversity is one of the reasons our graduate schemes exceed our graduates’ expectations.

Each of our businesses is unique, with individual cultures and a diverse range of challenges. Consequently, we need our people to be adaptable in their approach to working in different environments. Our graduate scheme is just one of AB Sugar's programmes for those with the potential, focus and appetite for a long term international career. We are committed to developing people who show the judgment, drive and influence to thrive in our business and make a real contribution to the overall success of the group.

Jump Aboard

All of our businesses are unique, diverse and challenging with individual cultures and environments. Please read about our businesses below, and see how varied your experience can be.

  • United Kingdom

    While basic sugar production remains at the core of the company's operations, it has also developed a highly integrated advanced manufacturing process, which seeks to eliminate waste at source or find innovative solutions to reuse it.

    • A leading UK competitor supplying all the major blue-chip customers
    • Comprehensive portfolio of products
    • 1.3 million tonnes of sugar (1.056 mt quota)
    • Four factories processing beet
    • Bioethanol refinery at Wissington sugar factory
    UK & Ireland
  • Spain

    The company operates three sugar beet factories in Northern Spain and a state-of-the-art packaging centre at Peñafiel. At Guadalete in Southern Spain, the company operates a 400,000k refinery which processes raw cane from less developed countries, a sugar beet plant, logistics centre and a 15MW combined cycle power plant, exporting power to Spain's national grid.

    • In the North, three sugar beet factories, one liquid sugar plant and one world class logistics and packaging plant, with a capacity of 200 Kt/year
    • In the South, one production centre, comprising a raw cane sugar refiner, sugar beet plant, logistics centre and 15MW combined cycle power plant exporting power to Spain's national grid
    • 378 Kt Beet Sugar Quota + c. 400Kt raw sugar refinery capacity
  • Africa

    Mindful of the significant development needs of the rural locations where it operates, Illovo has well established economic and community development programmes in place. Installed electricity generating capacity, fuelled by renewable resources, provides around 89% of Illovo's own energy requirements.

    • Africa's largest sugar producer
    • c. 1.7 million tonnes in 2011/2012
    • Established positions in low-cost cane sugar producing countries
    • Increasing sugar exports into Europe
    • 14 sugar and down-steam plants operating in six countries:
      Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa
  • China

    AB Sugar China began in 1995 as a joint venture in a cane sugar factory in Guangxi, known as BoQing. Since then the business has grown to incorporate a further four factories in the South and five in the North, with a combined output of over 750,000 tonnes of sugar.

    South China (Cane)
    • Five cane mills with c. 500,000 tonnes cane sugar production
    • New greenfield factory at Jinchenjiang commenced operations in December 2009
    North China (Beet)
    • Five beet sugar factories with c. 250,000 tonnes of beet sugar production
    • New greenfield factory in Zhangbei successfully commissioned in 2012

About you

Everything about this opportunity is unique...including you. You want an international career, with challenge and variety. You're tenacious and driven, and you stand out from the crowd.

Our schemes aren't for the faint hearted. To be successful you will need to demonstrate a high degree of resilience, combined with determination and drive to achieve results. You will also need to adapt quickly to different environments and cultures and be naturally inquisitive, allowing you to integrate quickly into the different businesses.

We're looking for high potential graduates with the technical skills, initiative and emotional intelligence to play a key role in our continuing growth and success across our culturally diverse businesses and locations.

As well as a strong academic background in your chosen field and excellent communication skills, you will have an ability to work on your own initiative and within busy teams. We're looking for people with resilience, dynamism and the ability to create valuable networks and relationships.

Our standards are high because you are the future of our business...

Graduate schemes

Make an impact from day one! Our International Graduate Scheme is a unique opportunity that will take you on an action-packed journey, accelerating your potential and capability. High quality training and support, together with the exceptional and varied international experiences on offer set you on the right path to become future leaders in our global business. After all, we're looking for people who are going to lead our business sooner rather than later.

Discover stimulating and challenging environments, from fields, to factories, to offices - across each of our locations. Our flexible graduate schemes operate over a period of approximately two and a half years, or three years if you join our Finance Scheme, and offer a unique opportunity to experience international travel and multicultural working. Your journey through our scheme will be as unique as you are - we don't recruit high numbers of graduates, but we do recruit high calibre.


We'll kick things off with a comprehensive induction programme, then a series of placements will follow, providing you with practical experience that goes hand-in-hand with structured training to develop your knowledge and skills in a number of areas.

    • Buddy for informal support
    • Regular assessment against predetermined objectives
    • Assigned Mentor
    • Further study towards relevant professional qualifications encouraged and supported
    • At required level, appointment to suitable position with us


Dig deep and discover how all of our businesses depend on cost-effective, quality crops to keep their large-scale manufacturing operations running efficiently. On our international Agriculture scheme, you'll learn how getting our agricultural operations right is the key to our financial success. Through hands-on experience you'll see that the sugar cane and sugar beet that's delivered is not only converted into one of our many sugar products, but can also find itself transformed into bio-fuels for inclusion into unleaded petrol, quality alcohol, fine chemicals or renewable electricity as well as a diverse range of co-products.

During a range of placements both in the UK and internationally, you will build your practical agricultural skills and knowledge enabling you to transfer agronomic and operational best practice across the Group.

Scheme requirements:

    • Total flexibility regarding international mobility and location
    • A 2:1 honours degree or higher in a relevant degree (Agriculture, Natural Sciences, Geography, Environmental Sciences, Horticulture)
    • Practical experience of work, a meaningful overseas experience and evidence of extra-curricular activities are essential
    • A second language is desirable (preferably Spanish or Mandarin)


    • Starting salary of £30,000 per annum
    • Joining bonus of £1,500
    • Formal and informal mentoring schemes
    • Contributory pension scheme
    • Financial support for on-going professional development / qualifications
    • 21 days holiday in the first year rising to 26, plus eight statutory days after one year of continuous service

All graduate salaries are reviewed regularly in- line with personal performance.

Don't just take our word for it - Hear it straight from our graduates here!


A strong finance function that provides proactive value-added support to the business is a pre-requisite in all successful companies. Here at AB Sugar, it is no different and during your three years you will have exposure to key areas within finance including management and financial accounting, operational and investment analysis, internal audit and project management.

You will gain this experience through a number of placements at our operational sites as well as in central functional support teams based in our businesses around the world. In parallel, you will be given the necessary support to study for a professional accounting qualification such as CIMA.

Scheme requirements:

    • Total flexibility regarding international mobility and location
    • A 2:1 honours degree or higher in Finance, Business Studies, Engineering, Maths or Science
    • A strong desire to pursue a career in finance at a senior level
    • A meaningful overseas experience and evidence of extra-curricular activities are essential
    • Practical experience of work and fluency in Spanish are desirable


    • Starting salary of £30,000 per annum
    • Joining bonus of £1,500
    • Formal and informal mentoring schemes
    • Contributory pension scheme
    • Financial support for on-going professional development / qualifications
    • 21 days holiday in the first year, rising to 26, plus eight statutory days after one year of continuous service

All graduate salaries are reviewed regularly in line with personal performance.

View our graduate case studies here and take their word for it...


Get hands-on with exciting opportunities across improvement, development and investment projects on our international Operations scheme. With a diverse range of challenges, you'll learn about what it takes to keep an operation running in widely different cultures, experiencing both sugar beet and sugar cane technical processes, in the UK and overseas.

From day one, working alongside management teams at a variety of UK and international factory locations, your placement and supplementary learning will together cultivate your leadership capabilities in preparation for the chance to play a high profile role in adding value across our businesses.

Scheme requirements:

    • Total flexibility regarding international mobility and location
    • A 2:1 honours degree or higher in Chemical / Mechanical / Process Engineering or a Science-related discipline
    • Practical experience of work, a meaningful overseas experience and evidence of extra-curricular activities are essential
    • A second language is desirable (preferably Spanish or Mandarin)


    • Starting salary of £30,000 per annum
    • Joining bonus of £1,500
    • Formal and informal mentoring schemes
    • Contributory pension scheme
    • Financial support for on-going professional development / qualifications
    • 21 days holiday in the first year, rising to 26, plus eight statutory days after one year of continuous service

All graduate salaries are reviewed regularly in line with personal performance.

View our graduate case studies here and take their word for it...

Willing & Able

See how our graduates have described their experiences and how their unique approaches helped them to get the most from their own personal journey.
You'll discover just how rewarding the experience can be.

  • Corrie Taylor Corrie Taylor Agriculture Completed scheme
    in 2012

    I joined the AB Sugar International Graduate Scheme in September 2009 after studying Plant Sciences at Manchester University. The scheme sounded like a really exciting opportunity to use the knowledge and skills I had developed during my degree, and the option to live abroad during the scheme was also very appealing.

    My first six months on the scheme were really busy, I spent some time understanding the businesses within AB Sugar and developing my knowledge of sugar beet agronomy. I also completed a project which I presented to the senior UK Agriculture Team at the end of the placement.

    I had so many different placements whilst I was on the graduate scheme it's hard to describe a typical day. During my time in North China I usually stayed in the factory accommodation, had breakfast with the factory team in the morning then spent some time travelling around the sugar beet growing area, meeting local growers. We'd find a local restaurant for lunch, then in the afternoon make our way back to the factory and meet with the senior Agriculture Team to discuss what they were working on. In the evening after dinner I would socialize with the local team, and sometimes do a bit of karaoke! But that is optional!

    My professional development on this scheme has been fantastic, but I think the biggest thing I got out of the scheme has been my personal development. I have learned so much about myself and how I cope with challenging conditions. I've had the opportunity to do things that I never thought I would be able to achieve and I think it has slightly changed the way I look at the world.

  • Freya Hinson Freya Hinson Operations Completed scheme
    in 2012

    I Joined the AB Sugar International Graduate Scheme in 2009 after completing a BSc Joint Honours degree in Chemistry with Management at Imperial College London. I was interested in the scheme because it was very different to any of the other schemes I looked at. The international nature of the opportunities was the primary attraction for me as well as the ability to gain experience within the individual business units but supported and mentored by a group level team.

    In my opinion, to be successful on this scheme you need to be adaptable and resilient, you also need a spirit of adventure and positive outlook on life. The scheme is interesting, exciting and full of challenges, but it is also a test of yourself, your limits and your drive.

    I have had some amazing experiences during the scheme, my highlights have included my time in South Africa learning about the Cane Industry both at Noodsberg Sugar Mill and during the SMRI course in Durban; Being appointed into my current role as a Strategy Analyst within AB Sugar; Visiting all seven sites in North China and learning more about Chinese culture and practices.

    I am looking forward to developing my career both within AB Sugar and additionally, being part of the wider ABF group means that there are some great career opportunities in other companies within the group.

    The things that I would advise people to consider is that this is not a typical graduate scheme, before you apply, do your homework. Make sure it is something that you really want to do and cconsider the impact that spending two and half years or more travelling the globe will have on your relationships, friendships and your current status quo. If you can handle all of those things, this scheme offers some great challenges and unique experiences making it a great opportunity.

  • Shaun Farquhar Shaun Farquhar Operations Completed scheme
    in 2012

    I joined the AB Sugar International Graduate Scheme in September 2009, with a BEng in Chemical Engineering with Management. I was initially interested in working in FMCG, particularly something with a lot of processing areas, like alcohol breweries, but then I realised that the sugar industry is similarly complex and interesting.

    My first placement involved learning beet processing and for this I was based at Europe's largest sugar refinery learning the fundamentals of the UK operation that would enable me to be prepared for the overseas placements. 'A typical day' on the scheme will change regularly, you might be doing gas analysis on boilers in Tanzania one day and reducing costs of effluent treatment in Inner Mongolia a few weeks later.

    To be successful and get the most out of the scheme you need to be tenacious and willing to relocate regularly. This isn't easy if you have commitments in the UK and it is certainly not something that should be underestimated. However, if you are committed and put everything into the placements the rewards and experiences are fantastic.

    I am a process engineer in North China and am really enjoying the role. The most useful thing I have learned is that to really understand the cultural differences between businesses and countries, you need to be as fully-immersed as you can, but always retain some objectivity. This helps to build relationships and understand the issues, whilst still providing a different cultural viewpoint to a solution.

  • Rosalind Teo Rosalind Teo Operations Completed scheme in 2013

    I joined the International Graduate Scheme in September 2010 with a MEng, Mechanical Engineering degree from The University of Nottingham. Since joining the business, I have successfully completed numerous training courses, such as NEBOSH, SMRI Sugar Engineering and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

    I was interested in the scheme because of the opportunities to experience different businesses in the Group and different countries. I was also impressed by the scale of the sugar industry, both in Europe and around world.

    Due to the nature of the scheme, we relocate regularly and therefore have to adapt quickly to different environments, people and cultures in order to meet our learning deliverables. During my training, I moved eight times in two and a half years, within and outside of the UK. During each placement, you are given a set of learning objectives and deliverables but there isn't anybody to 'hold your hand' and make sure you complete them. The success and failure of any placement relies solely on you and how you want to drive it.

    One of the most important things I have learned is to appreciate the diverse cultures that we operate in - I always found that it helps to make an effort to speak the local language and it doesn't hurt to smile!

  • David Batchor David Batchelor Finance Completed scheme in 2012

    I joined the international finance graduate scheme in 2009 as part of the first intake. After graduating in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh I moved to China to work and learn Mandarin. Having spent three years studying and working in China, then completing a Masters in Chinese and Business at the University of Leeds, the AB Sugar scheme was the ideal opportunity to both further my interest in business, while maintaining an international flavour to my career.

    The scheme offered me an excellent balance between structured development through CIMA studies, and the flexibility of taking on six different roles in a number of businesses while being geographically mobile. Very few schemes can match the diversity of challenges and opportunities offered by the international finance scheme at AB Sugar. In the space of one year I had presented analysis on supermarket promotions, helped farmers in South-Western China understand their cost base, and then been involved in the Group’s response to the Euro crisis.

    It has been fascinating for me to see first-hand how a group of businesses which are essentially based on the same process of taking a raw material and turning it into sugar, can be so different culturally, as well as operationally. One of the keys to success on the scheme, as well as being a skill which is quickly developed further, is the ability to appreciate the distinct characteristics of each business. This helps you to be a self-starter, understanding the business and your role in it, and then making an impact before it’s time to start planning the next move.

    Since completing this scheme in September 2012 I have been based in Southern China as Finance Manager working with a great team of locals and ex-pat. As a member of the Finance Team I am also in regular contact with the UK Head Office, involving both reporting and seeking opportunities for Finance to support the business, find opportunities, and meet our strategic goals. I would highly recommend this scheme to anyone interested in a career in finance or business, with the global perspective that only a multinational such as AB Sugar and the wider ABF Group can offer.

  • Alina Zhou Alina Zhou Finance On placement with British Sugar

    I joined the AB Sugar International Graduate Scheme in 2010 after graduating with a BSc Honors degree in International Hospitality Business Management. The primary attraction for me was the opportunity of working in different countries including China, where I believe my language skills and Chinese background could be fully utilised; as well as the full support towards CIMA studies because I wanted to work in a financial role.

    The best thing about working for a big firm like AB Sugar is you are able to gain a wide range of experience within various finance areas. I appreciate the different roles I have done, from typical financial accounting to working in FMCG brand Silver Spoon, sugar market analysis to capital project finance; reporting at group level could be very different when compared to subsidiary level and factory level. Each placement lasts for around six months, which is long enough to gain a deep understanding and be able to make changes, short enough for you to move on before you get into a routine and become too comfortable with it. It keeps life interesting and provides a good deal of insight within a short period of time.

    In my opinion, to be successful on the finance graduate scheme, time management and self-motivation is absolutely key, as working and studying at the same time is challenging but the company and line managers are extremely supportive when it comes to the balance of workload and study. You also need to be totally flexible in terms of working environment and locations, getting ready to put yourself out of your comfort zone and being proactive.

    The things I appreciated most from this scheme are the responsibilities I have had and the changes I was able to implement as a graduate. The support I have had from my mentor and line managers who advised and directed my career planning. The soft skills I have gained through a series of training programs that were organised by the HR team. These are crucial for future professional development. The programme has been fantastic; I look forward to developing my career further within AB Sugar, and being part of the ABF Group means greater flexibility and potential opportunities in other companies within the group.


Absorb it all

Our graduates have put together some short films detailing their experiences, to help you understand the scheme from a first-hand point of view.
Do you picture yourself in a starring role?

Apply now!

There are three stages to the application process, and it begins with online registration:

  1. Click the APPLY NOW button to register your contact details and create a password. This will allow you to save your application if you wish to complete it in sections.
  2. Select your preferred scheme.
  3. Complete the application fields, upload your CV and then submit!


Following this, applications will be short-listed and you may be asked to attend a telephone or Skype interview and take some ability tests. From there, it's your time to shine during our 'Assessment Centre' which will involve a range of exercises including presentations, group exercises, interviews and case studies. Don't miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime - apply now and start your journey with us today!

Send any questions to graduaterecruitment@absugar.com.