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The Sugar Market


Currently, about 110 countries produce sugar from either cane or beet, and eight countries produce sugar from both cane and beet. Sugarcane, on average, accounts for nearly 80% of global sugar production. Last October/September season the top ten producing countries (India, Brazil, Thailand, China, the US, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, France, Australia)  accounted for nearly 70% of global output.

Sugar crops offer production alternatives to food, such as livestock feed, fibre and energy, particularly biofuels (sugar-based ethanol) and co-generation of electricity(cane bagasse). Sugarcane is generally regarded as one of the most significant and efficient sources of biomass for biofuel production. A wide range of environmental and social issues are connected with sugar production and processing, and sugar crop growers, processors, plus energy and food companies, are seeking ways to address concerns related to sugar production, biofuels and sustainability.


Between 2001 and 2018, world sugar consumption increased from 123.454 mln tonnes to 172.441 mln tonnes, the equivalent to an average annual growth of 2.01%. However, the second half of the current decade has seen a considerable deceleration in world sugar consumption growth to less than 0.84% per annum (average for 2016-2018), while no growth has been for 2018. 

Major sugar consuming markets include India, the EU, China, Brazil, the US, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt.  

The most important drivers which influence sugar demand include:

  • population growth,

  • per capita incomes,

  • the price of sugar and alternative sweeteners, and 

  • health concern debate. 

International Trade

World sugar trade averages about  64 mln tonnes/year. Raw sugar accounts for around 60% of internationally trade volumes. Although many countries produce sugar,  top five exporters (Brazil, Thailand, EU, Australia, India) were responsible on average for nearly 70% of the world trade in 2016-18. Brazil, as the largest producing and exporting country in the world, dominates world trade, accounting for about 45% of global exports.

Indonesia, China the United States were world’s largest importing nations in 2018.


The World Sugar Economy in 2019

After one year of surplus, the world sugar economy returned to deficit in 2019. World output fell short of global use by 1.169 mln tonnes.

World production showed a reduction of 9.154 mln tonnes to 169.569 mln tonnes, a three-year low. This is the largest change since 2009, although without production in Brazil changing significantly. Substantial year-on-year reductions in output were noted for India (-3.638 mln tonnes), the EU (-1.880 mln tonnes), Thailand (-1.390 mln tonnes) and Pakistan (-0.950 mln tonnes). Meanwhile, production increased in Russia (+1.023 mln tonnes) compared to 2018.

World consumption declined this year, the first time since 2011, to 170.738 mln tonnes, down 1.229 mln tonnes from last year. This fall nullifies the consumption growth in the preceding two years. World average per capita consumption in 2019 stood at 22.1 kg, down from a 2016 high of 22.9 kg.

In 2019 the volume of sugar traded internationally decreased for a second year in succession. It reached 57.74 mln tonnes, down by 4.43 mln tonnes from last year and 7.80 mln tonnes from two years ago. This continued decline reflects confidence in importing countries that sugar export availability is plentiful. On the export side, the main changes were lower exports from Brazil (-3.371 mln tonnes), down for a second successive year, and the EU  (-1.747 mln tonnes). Meanwhile higher exports were seen in India (+2.333 mln tonnes). Smaller world market imports were purchased by Indonesia       (-1.113 mln tonnes), China (-1.038 mln tonnes), the UAE (-0.950 mln tonnes) and India (-0.814 mln tonnes). These declines were partly compensated by larger EU imports (+0.899 mln tonnes).

By the end of 2019, world stocks of sugar had declined by 1.170 mln tonnes, to 110.765 mln tonnes. This is an equivalent of 64.9% of consumption, fractionally lower than last year’s 65.1% but high in terms of historic averages (2009-2018 average = 60.7%).

Sugar market fundamentals in 2019, with a modest deficit but sharply lower trade numbers, kept world prices under bearish pressure. The ISA  Daily Price averaged 12.70 cents/lb, up 0.15 cents/lb on last year. The 2019 high came at the end of December, reaching 13.64 cents/lb, while the low was in September, at 11.52 cents/lb. The ISO White Sugar Price Index increased from USD343.30/tonne in 2018 to USD336.22/tonne in 2019.

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Our Story

Brazil is historically the largest sugar producer in the world.



Brazilian sugar reaches every corner of the globe and, as an important natural and affordable source of energy, helps fight malnutrition. It is a key ingredient providing flavor and consistency to food and is part of the culture and daily life of Brazilians.

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