This review considers the chemical and biotechnological synthesis of acids that are obtained by direct oxidation of mono- or oligosaccharide, referred to as sugar acids. It focuses on sugar acids which can be readily derived from plant biomass sources and their current and future applications. The three main classes of sugar acids are aldonic, aldaric and uronic acids. Interest in organic acids derived from sugars has recently increased, as part of the interest to develop biorefineries which produce not only biofuels, but also chemicals to replace those currently derived from petroleum. More than half of the most desirable biologically produced platform chemicals are organic acids. Currently, the only sugar acid with high commercial production is d-gluconic acid. However, other sugar acids such as d-glucaric and meso-galactaric acids are being produced at a lower scale. The sugar acids have application as sequestering agents and binders, corrosion inhibitors, biodegradable chelators for pharmaceuticals and pH regulators. There is also considerable interest in the use of these molecules in the production of synthetic polymers, including polyamides, polyesters and hydrogels. Further development of these sugar acids will lead to higher volume production of the appropriate sugar acids and will help support the next generation of biorefineries.