Last year was a rough one for American sugar farmers. The Hagstrom Report says America is facing a sugar shortage after last year’s bad weather in the Midwest, a freeze in Louisiana, and drought in Mexico.
The shortage is driving the prices for the industrial sweetener higher, reaching several cents above average. A national refiner of raw sugar is offering refined cane sugar at 44 cents per pound now and 41 cents for the calendar year 2021. That’s compared with the more usual prices of 37 to 38 cents. The bad weather hit particularly hard in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Those areas have some of the most sophisticated delivery systems to candy makers and other food companies in Chicago and other midwestern cities. The U.S. Ag Department can make changes if needed to its sugar management system to make it easier and cheaper to bring in raw cane sugar from other countries into the United States, but also has no control over the refining process once the sugar enters the country.
The U.S. sugar industry used to have 104 production plants but now has 45.