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2024 International Sweetener Colloquium: Key Take-Aways

Once again, the IDFA and Sugar Users Association did an excellent job gathering the sweetener industry to network, make deals, learn, and have a bit of fun in the Florida sunshine.  

A BIG Event

The organizers were happy to report a record attendance of over 700 industry professionals.

Weakish CPG Sales

Some CPG customers reported demand to be the same or better. But for others, sales were off from budgeted expectations. Are consumers simply eating the inventory that they had built up post-Covid, or is inflation eating into demand for indulgence products?  It appears that consumers are looking for a value proposition. Expensive, but indulgent and/or healthy and sustainable. Or budget-priced; cheap but still tasty.

Looking for Cost Savings

With sugar prices at historical highs, buyers were anxious to explore any possible cost savings. This created renewed interest in dark color options for those who have yet to switch. And it also spurred inquiries about pricing against the #11’s (world market).

No Good News Out of Mexico

For a myriad of reasons from drought to age of the cane, the consensus is that the crop in Mexico continues to deteriorate. Without this supply, the US market will have to look elsewhere to ensure volumes to keep food manufacturing plants humming.  To fulfill both domestic demand and trade agreements, Mexico has been importing sugar from the US and elsewhere.

The Continuation of High-Tier Imports

The USDA officials admitted, that without a policy change, the US sugar market will use high-tier imports to fill the shortfall in Mexico.  They recognized that high-tier imports are keeping sugar prices high. But as there is not a ‘supply issue’ per se, there is no ‘emergency’ that might lead to adjustments. 

But whose emergency?

It appears that the USDA (remember ‘A’ stands for ‘agriculture’) is going to continue to let prices run high/higher to the benefit of U.S. farmers, refiners, and the government (.15/.16 tax per # that comes in under the High Tier Tax Program with every # imported).

Is it time for a USDC? A US Dept of Consumer???

Checkbooks Stayed in the Pocket

Unlike the buying frenzy of 2023, very little was booked at the colloquium. Suppliers were telling customers that prices were going to stay high, so there was no real imperative. Most suppliers are saying they are equally booked to 2023 at this time, most are at 25%-30%. 

Good Partnerships Matter

We missed some buyers who retired or changed positions this past year, but we were equally excited about meeting new buyers to help them understand “sugar”.

As CSC Sugar approaches its 20th anniversary, we understand the value of trust that can come from long-term relationships. In the decades to come, we will continue to help our stakeholders navigate both the challenges and opportunities of this dynamic market.


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