WEED CONTROL FREAKS
\ May 12, 2016 /
Dan Charles at NPR has recently done two interesting pieces about sugar production. In the first, he uses sugar as a proxy to look at the environmental costs and trade-offs of growing food in different places. It makes for an interesting comparison because there are two completely different crops (sugarcane and sugarbeet) that can be grown to produce the exact same product, refined sugar. The two crops have very different climatic needs, pest management requirements, and growing seasons. It is an interesting read.
The second piece, which I found even more interesting, reports on the impact of some major sugar buyers have had by moving away from sugar produced by GMO sugarbeet:
Deborah Arcoleo, director of product transparency at the Hershey Co., told me that in 2015, “we started reformulating Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s milk chocolate, and Hershey’s milk chocolate with almonds, to move from beet sugar to cane sugar, and that’s complete. Now we’re looking to do that across the rest of our portfolio, to the extent that we can.”
Hershey’s is one of the top sugar users in the country, and other companies have made similar moves.
The result has been a remarkable change in the American sugar market. Slowly, but consistently, a gap has opened up between the price of sugar from cane and sugar from beets.
“The current price for beet sugar is about 3 to 5 cents below the price for cane sugar on the spot market,” says Michael McConnell, an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
It means that buyers are paying 10 to 15 percent more for cane sugar.