The Economic Impact of the U.S. Sugar Industry

America’s sugar farming families and workers support more than 151,000 jobs across more than two dozen states and contribute more than $23 billion to the economy each year, according to a study from the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Rob Johansson Testimony Before the House Committee on Agriculture

Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA), testified before the House Committee on Agriculture in March 2022 on the importance of supporting America’s sugar farmers, producers, and sugar supply chain by maintaining a strong U.S. sugar policy in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Univ. of Tennessee Study Rejects Candy Lobby’s Long-Held Accusations

WASHINGTON – Researchers from the University of Tennessee released a study today that sheds new light on how sugar prices affect sweetened product prices, and their findings stand in sharp contrast to decades-old claims made by candy company lobbyists.

Drs. Karen DeLong and Carlos Trejo-Pech, of the university’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, found that the retail cost of sweetened products, such as candy and baked goods, is not affected by the price that the food manufacturers pay for sugar. In fact, the researchers noted that sugar generally accounts for less than 2.6 percent of sweetened product prices.

“Sugar prices do not impact how food companies price their sweetened products in any statistically significant way, which ultimately reaffirms the fact that U.S. sugar policy does not harm sugar-using firms,” the authors concluded.

U.S. sugar policy involves loans that are repaid with interest instead of subsidy checks, which enable producers to store large amounts of sugar that can be delivered to customers when needed. The system operates without taxpayer cost.

“This study shows that there is little-to-no correlation between changes in sugar prices and the prices that grocery shoppers ultimately pay for sweet treats,” explained Rob Johansson, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, which commissioned the work.

“In other words, gutting U.S. sugar policy and outsourcing America’s sugar supply to subsidized companies abroad won’t yield positive results for U.S. consumers or food makers,” said Johansson, who previously served as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It will only harm American farmers and workers.”

This study is the second conducted by the University of Tennessee about U.S. sugar policy and prices. The first, an independent peer-reviewed piece that was published June 2020 in Agricultural and Food Economics, found that U.S. sugar prices did not harm the financial performance of food manufacturers.

Drs. Karen DeLong and Carlos Trejo-Pech are scheduled to present their findings at the 2022 Southern Agricultural Economics Association meeting.

The Resiliency of America’s Sugar Supply Chain

America’s sugar supply chain proved resilient in the face of immense challenges in 2019 and 2020, in large part due to the stability provided by U.S. farm and trade policies, the American Sugar Alliance stated in a report submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Russia’s Sugar Industry: Transformation with Government Intervention

The report, authored by Patrick H. Chatenay and Sergey Gudoshnikov, not only details how Russia engineered a sudden shift in sugar production, transforming from one of the world’s biggest sugar importers to a net exporter of sugar, but also why the government sought to regenerate its domestic sugar industry.

Charts and Graphs

Download charts and graphs on the economics of the global sugar market.

Country-by-Country Sugar Subsidy Developments

Compiled by ASA staff using USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network reports.

The European Union Sugar Industry at World Market Prices

After more than half a century as a highly regulated sugar policy, with minimum prices and domestic sales’ quotas, the European Union’s Sugar Regime was liberalized from October 1, 2017. From then on, producers would freely decide how much to supply, a large amount of duty-free imports were available and prices were to be determined by supply and demand. “Market forces” would rule. Click here for the full report.

An Examination of Foreign Subsidies and Trade Policies For Sugar

The International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness (ICAC) at Texas Tech hosts and maintains a database of subsidies and trade policy information for public use. The report summarizes the information obtained and housed in the database relating to sugar in key producing, consuming, exporting, and importing countries. Click here for the full report.

The Myth of High U.S. Sugar Prices

Do American consumers pay triple the world price for sugar? No.

Indian sugar policy: Government role in production expansion, and transition from importer to exporter

Prepared by Antoine Meriot, Sugar Expertise LLC, for the American Sugar Alliance (ASA.)

Analysis of the Coalition for Sugar Reform Amendments to U.S. Sugar Policy: Potential Effect on Policy and Industry

Dr. Joe Outlaw and Dr. James Richardson, co-directors of Texas A&M’s Agricultural and Food Policy Center.

Economic Effects of U.S. Sugar Policy

Professor Alexander J. Triantis Dean, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

Domestic and International Sugar Prices: Differences, Links, Indications of Import Protection and Export Support

A report for the American Sugar Alliance by Patrick H. Chatenay, President, ProSunergy (UK) Ltd.

Government Support and the Brazilian Sugar Industry

by Patrick H. Chatenay of ProSunergy (UK) Ltd

Commentary on 2006 U.S. Department of Commerce Report

by Professor Alexander J. Triantis

The Confectionary Industries in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico: Trends in Structure, Domestic Production and Use, Trade and Cost Comparisons

Buzzanell and Associates, Inc.