Sugar under the microscope

Price, application, product quality and more: producers face a long list of considerations when picking sugars or sweeteners, says Editor Caitlin Gittins 

The advent of sugar-free chewing gum in the 1950s through to the 1970s (depending on where you were in the world) demonstrated that interest in reduced sugar and sugar free solutions is not necessarily new, but the renewed focus in recent years has certainly produced continually novel solutions. In our April issue, I wrote that regardless of the solution, it must fit the application; something that rings true against a backdrop of stricter regulation, health concerns and pressures on producers to work with reduced sugar or sugar-free solutions. Finding the right solution has to take into account the application, intended consumer, costs and supply chain.  

Sugar supply under strain 

Sugars are fascinating as they represent a highly technical process that takes place during processing whether a producer is making chewing gum or chocolate. Conventional white sugar has been used in the confectionery industry for centuries, but the heralding of a new, health-conscious age has driven interest in sugar alternatives, substitutes and sweeteners – although this is not to suggest that conventional white sugar doesn’t remain strong in the market today. 

For producers today, there are a number of factors to take into account when producing with sugar; the application and end product, the trend they are seeking to meet but also equally important, the cost and supply chain. The identification of ‘sugarflation’ by research company The Smart Cube cited a decline in sugar production against a backdrop of increasing demand and issues around harvest and the weather as being responsible for driving price increases. ““For the remainder of the calendar year, sugar output is set to be significantly impacted by variable weather conditions. This is largely being led by the El Niño phenomenon,” explained Nidhi Jain, Associate Specialist at The Smart Cube in a press release, warning of harvest reductions and consequently diminished supply.  

Nidhi went on to echo a sentiment that is likely being felt across the entire confectionery industry; “the wider confectionery industry is under increasing amounts of pressure to tackle the crisis. Small players, such as bakeries and hotels, who depend on sugar as a crucial ingredient for their products, are reportedly suffering diminishing profit margins as they battle to absorb the increasing prices without passing them on to their clients, unlike large players.” 

This strain on the supply chain where supply is not meeting demand and prices are being bumped up has led to multiple trade body associations including the BDSI (German trade body) and CAOBISCO calling on their respective governments to lessen the costs of import sugar tariffs over these concerns. 

“In this extremely tense situation for the confectionery industry in Germany and the European Union, the EU Commission must finally act and open the European market for white sugar imports in the short term,” said Bastian Fassin, Chairman of the BDSI in a press release…

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920


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