Sugar is the main sweetener in food and beverage applications across the world. Apart from its sweet taste, sugar has many other functions in food technology which make it hard to replace in food applications if a “clean label” shall be maintained. The most important of these is that it acts as a natural preservative, texture modifier, fermentation substrate, flavoring and coloring agent, and a bulking agent.
Key facts about the global sugar market
- World sugar production ranges between 175-200 million tonnes per annum.
- Around 65-70 million tonnes are traded globally while the rest is consumed domestically in countries of production.
- The annual growth rate has fallen to about 1% per annum. from about 2-2.5% until about a decade ago with the main pillars of growth being world population growth and economic growth, which comes along with a rising consumption of sugar-rich processed foods.
- Brazil is the largest producer and exporter. Output had risen as high as 40 million tonnes in 2017/18 of which 29 million tonnes were exported, but both levels were about 10 million tonnes lower in 18/19 and 19/20 in as processing of sugar cane into ethanol was more profitable in those years than into refined sugar because of depressed sugar prices. Some sort of recovery is expected this season.
- India is the largest consumer at 26 million tonnes, while Indonesia and China are the largest importers with about 5 million tonnes each.