The composition of the sugar beet root affects the recovery of crystalline sugar in the factory considerably. K, Na and amino N are melassigenic and are, therefore, always considered in the assessment of root quality for variety approval, and in some countries also for payment. The development of root quality during the season and the impact of variety, root rots, drought stress, N fertilizer application, defoliation/topping and storage are discussed. A further increase of the sugar concentration in varieties may be restricted by cell turgor and can probably only be achieved with a simultaneous decrease of the concentration of non-sugars. Future needs of the processing industry could change the criteria for quality assessment. It is observed that the alkalinity reserve (ion balance) of the juices gets lower so that soda has to be added. Moreover, long-term storage and the infestation with root rots result in a marked increase of the invert sugar concentration with detrimental consequences for processing. Therefore, quality assessment would probably be improved by considering alkalinity and invert sugar concentration. For the use of sugar beet for biofuel production, the sugar concentration (ethanol) or the organic dry matter (methane) of the roots are important quality criteria.