WASHINGTON — The Sweetener Users Association (SUA) on March 22 released a white paper describing how US sugar policy encourages imports of sugar-containing products (SCPs) that otherwise could be produced in the United States and resulting in reduced sales of US-produced sugar and job losses.

“The restrictions imposed by the US sugar program incentivize imports of SCPs, resulting in the loss of American food manufacturing jobs and less domestic sales of sugar for growers and processors,” said Rick Pasco, president of the SUA. 

The paper said net SCP imports have increased annually between 2013-14 and 2021-22, with net imports growing 124% during that time, “spurred by persistently short supplies and high prices of sugar in the US market, mostly as a result of deliberate US policies.” The amount of sugar in net SCP imports in 2021-22 equaled about 12% of domestic sales, “a benefit growers and processors cold reap in not for the US sugar program,” the SUA said.

“Congress now has the chance to rework the US sugar program and address this harmful, US-job-destroying policy as it works to reauthorize the farm bill in 2023,” Mr. Pasco said.

SUA-White-Paper_embed_source-Agralytica.jpgSource: Agralytica

Based on data analysis from Agralytica, an Alexandria, Va.-based consultancy, the white paper said the United States imported 2,388,616 short tons of sugar in SCPs in 2021-22 compared with exports of 830,639 tons, for net imports of 1,557,977 tons, up 16% from 2020-21. Net imports of sugar in SCPs could grow to more than 1.6 million tons if import trends for the first quarter continue, the report said. In comparison, sales of domestic sugar in 2021-22 were 12,578,000 tons.

If US sugar policies were even a little less restrictive, the incentives for SCP imports and disincentives for SCP exports would diminish, resulting in up to 12% more sugar sales for US growers and processors and a greater share of SCPs made in the United States. 

The SUA represents US food and beverage manufacturers who use sugar and other sweeteners.