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Sweetening Life in the Red River Valley Since 1974

November 16, 2017
Second Installment in Video Series Explores U.S. Sugar Prices

Food manufacturers spent just 33.5 cents for a pound of sugar in October and have paid under 30 cents for most of the past year, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

That puts prices well below the 38 cents per pound that producers received back in 1980, and it is creating tough economic conditions for sugar farmers and workers alike.

What candy companies and other food manufacturers pay for this key ingredient will be at the heart of the upcoming debate over America’s no-cost sugar policy, and producers want to make sure that lawmakers have a better understanding of the current price environment.  That’s why the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) today released an educational video on the topic.

Current U.S. sugar prices are “a lot lower than the 41 cents that the International Sugar Organization says consumers in other developed countries pay,” the video explains.  “Those low prices have taken a toll.  Sixty-five sugar factories have closed since 1980, leaving thousands unemployed.”

Confectioners are currently lobbying Congress to send sugar producers’ prices even lower and are pushing legislation that would force the USDA to keep the U.S. market oversupplied with subsidized imports.

Meanwhile, food makers and grocers are boosting profits by absorbing sugar savings and charging grocery shoppers more for sweet treats.  ASA’s video notes that the average price of a candy bar has climbed from 35 cents to $1.49 since 1985.

“So why hasn’t sugar done the same?” the video asks. “American farmers get a lot of the credit – they’re among the world’s most efficient.  America’s no-cost sugar policy has a lot to do with it, too.”

That policy is built on loans that producers repay with interest instead of subsidy checks, and sugar farmers want to make sure that members of Congress rebuff attempts by farm critics to eliminate those loans and outsource the country’s sugar production to subsidized, foreign industries.

The video is the second in a multi-part series airing on ASA’s website and social media channels. It is available at www.sugaralliance.org

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