According to, Ian Clark, who manages the Plaistow, London factory where Lyle’s Golden Syrup has been made since 1883, “It is officially the oldest brand packaging in the world.” (“World Record for Iconic ‘Goldie’”).The famous tin, introduced in 1885, and celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, with its golden arch and biblical quotation – “out of the strong came forth sweetness”, is now in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest continuously in use packaging label.
Upstream (which in geographical terms is downstream) of the refinery the supply chain is very rigid. The price of the raw cane and its availability is notably unstable, but this is a characteristic of all commodities. In every other sense, the supply chain upstream is inflexible. Ocean transport is not amenable to JIT management and last-minute revisions. Moreover, the final stage that brings the raw cane up the Thames estuary and to the refinery is highly regulated and regimented. Deliveries are coordinated through the Port Authority and limited to once per week. Also, it is fundamentally only one product arriving, raw sugar cane.
Downstream from the refinery, the situation is entirely different. In fact, it is the polar opposite. Most importantly, as the company website proudly proclaims over 250 products end up in consumers’ hands directly or indirectly through inclusion in other products. Packaged retail bagged sugar is the obvious product. Goldie, Lyles Golden Syrup is produced from a by-product of the refining process as are molasses and treacle. A variety of products leave the refinery for a variety of destinations, many involving further processing. The scale and complexity of the supply chain downstream are entirely different from the rigid, unitary supply chain upstream.
Recognizing this situation and its increasing involvement with alternately sourced (notably corn-based) and synthetic sweeteners such as Splenda, Tate & Lyle choose to entirely leave the refining business.