It’s hard to imagine a summer without strawberry rhubarb pie, peach cobbler, and other in-season goodies. Thankfully, our favorite treats will still be around — but making them might become more expensive.
India, the world’s largest producer of sugar, will restrict sugar exports this summer. The news came last week, when the Indian government said in a statement that it would limit exports to 10 million tons up through September. (And it’s not the only export India has banned; the country limited exports of wheat earlier in May after a scorching heat wave harmed crops and its domestic prices skyrocketed.)
Why India Is Restricting Sugar Exports
As explained by the Indian government, the restrictions will help keep sugar prices from soaring, after the country experienced an “unprecedented growth in exports” last year and in recent months. CNN.com notes that this is a form of food protectionism, or a way for a domestic industry to protect its own supplies and prevent its food prices from rising. (On the other hand, restrictions like this one could mean that global prices for certain foods will rise.)
It’s also a response to inflation. In India, annual inflation rates reached 7.8 percent this year, which is the highest level that the country has seen in almost eight years.
Why Sugar Will Still Be on Shelves
Though the US imports a significant amount of sugar, it still produces its own. NPR.org states that about half of all US sugar comes from domestic beets, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that Florida, Louisiana, and Texas are big producers of sugarcane. Plus, the US government has been blocking out imported sugar with high tariffs since the 1960s to keep American sugar farmers in business.
However, some of that has changed in recent years. US sugar production has severely declined due to unpredictable weather (rain storms, flash freezes, and heat waves). Because of this, the US allowed more foreign sugar into the country to keep up with demand.
So, sugar will still be on our store shelves, but we may experience the impact of India’s sugar restrictions this summer — whether that’s via higher prices or less availability.
Sweet Alternatives to Granulated Sugar
To avoid higher sugar prices without sacrificing your sweet tooth, try an alternative to granulated sugar. Consider using Purecane, a one-to-one sugar substitute, or stevia. Or try a recipe that requires honey or agave syrup.