In this article, we will be taking a look at the 20 countries with highest sugar consumption. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 5 countries with highest sugar consumption.
Despite being linked to a myriad of illnesses, including higher blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, the sugar industry is still absolutely massive despite some signs of turbulence. According to the Ragus, despite numerous global challenges impacting the world including record inflation and recessions in various countries, London white sugar is currently being sold at a price not seen in over a decade, while global beet sugar production in 2022 / 2023 is expected to finish at 37.2 million tonnes. However, the biggest sugar source is of course, sugar cane, where production reached 145.5 million tonnes in the same period, which means that global production of sugar overall in 2022 / 2023 was 182.7 million tonnes, which sounds impressive until you realize that this was the lowest level of production in the past three years. Even though the 2023 / 2024 estimate is expected to see an increase to 191 million tonnes, let’s first take a look at the factors impacting sugar production in recent years.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, supply of sugar in even 2023 / 2024 is expected to be lower than the current year, by 2%, mainly due to lower opening stocks, lower production and lower imports. According the USDA “The initial forecast for total imports is down 4 percent partly because the quantities for the World Trade Organization (WTO) raw and refined tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) are set at the minimum commitment levels, and high-tier tariff imports are at 120,000 STRV. The additional Specialty Sugar TRQ has yet to be announced, and thus excluded. Sugar for total and food use in 2023/24 is set at 12.815 million STRV and 12.675 million respectively, both unchanged from 2022/23. The 2023/24 ending stocks are 1.444 million STRV and the stocks-to-use ratio is 11.3 percent.” This is bad news for some of the countries with the highest sugar consumption, especially those heavily reliant on agriculture, as when major countries such as the U.S. reduce imports, the GDP of such sugar producers take a hit. While prices are continuing to rise as production falls, this may be offset in the future as production increases are expected from Europe, China, Brazil and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, according to the European Commission, global sugar surplus is expected to be 0.9 million tonnes in 2022 / 2023, a fall of 3.3 million tonnes as compared to the previous year. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022 and is still continuing, resulted in an increase in spot prices for sugar in Europe, though the impact of the war did not have as much impact on the sugar industry as opposed to other staples such as wheat.
One of the biggest challenges being faced by the sugar industry is higher taxation on sugar, especially in major European nations, which is a major headache for the countries with the highest sugar consumption. 19% of the countries in the World Health Organization have imposed such a tax, mostly on sugar-sweetened beverages including Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, the UK and Portugal. While mostly these taxes are applied to carbonated drinks, which are incredibly unhealthy, some nations also impose such taxes on items such as sweetened milk, juices and other sweetened beverages. These taxes have been imposed to discourage the consumption of sugar as its negative impacts on a person’s health have been demonstrated reliably over decades. According to UK Research and Innovation, this sugary drinks tax may have resulted in the prevention of 5,000 cases of obesity per year, which is good news for a nation’s health but not so good for some of the biggest food and beverage companies in the world. However, obesity is still a huge issue, and Dr Nina Rogers from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge said ” We urgently need to find ways to tackle the increasing numbers of children living with obesity, otherwise we risk our children growing up to face significant health problems. That was one reason why the UK’s soft drinks industry levy was introduced and the evidence so far is promising. We’ve shown for the first time that it is likely to have helped prevent thousands of children each year becoming obese. It isn’t a straightforward picture, though, as it was mainly older girls who benefited. But the fact that we saw the biggest difference among girls from areas of high deprivation is important and is a step towards reducing the health inequalities they face.”
Cuba is one of the countries which was a major sugar producer, with sugar being an important part of the country’s history for centuries. In World War I, the prices of sugar soared and the sugar barons in Cuba earned fortunes, buying and developing mansions which can still be seen in Havana. However, U.S. sanctions for decades have eroded the country’s sugar industry and now, less than two dozen sugar refineries are still in operation. This year, Cuba is likely to have its worst harvest in over a century, even though it is still among the biggest sugar consuming countries in the world.
Even now, when the negative health effects of refined sugar are clear for the world to see, addiction to the product has ensured that the demand for sugar remains high. While no pure sugar producing company is listed on the stock exchange, with such companies being privately held, some companies do produce sugar in addition to other agricultural products, boasting a more diverse portfolio, while other companies make products which have a high amount of sugar in them, including the Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (NYSE:TR), Mondelez International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MDLZ) and The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY), and could prove to be good investments.
The countries with the highest sugar consumption consumed over 41 million metric tonnes, while the global total was over 170 million tonnes. To determine our ranking, we used data compiled from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ranking each country based on total consumption and consumption per capita, allotting 70% weightage to the latter as it’s a more significant indicator on demand for sugar in a country, and hence, greater investment opportunities to go with it. So, let’s take a look at these countries now, starting with:
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 2,650
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 38.4
The Thai Health Promotion Foundation stated that Thais consume around 6 teaspoons of sugar every single day, and campaigns are being launched to decrease sugar consumption and raise awareness of its harmful effects.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 393
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 46.3
It’s a bit surprising to see a top European country rank high in sugar consumption, but 10 major companies, including The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), have agreed to reduce the amount of sugar in products.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 1,330
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 42.3
Sugar seems to be quite popular in South America, and Venezuela is no exception, with 80% of the sugar consumption in the country being human consumption, with the rest attributable to industrial usage.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 1,995
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 40.1
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, sugar exports from Colombia are expected to register a slight increase to nearly 700,000 MT, mainly because of high prices.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 4,857
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 39.2
Mexico has long since been counted among the leading sugar consuming nations globally but its sugar tax, imposed in recent years, resulted in a decrease in sugar consumptions in just 3 years.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 185
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 193.3
Djibouti has one of the highest sugar consumption rates in Africa and for a country where a balanced diet is already afforded to only a few people, this is not good news.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 325
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 53.4
According to Helgi Library, Lebanon’s sugar consumption reached a record high in 2020, and sugar consumption in the country still continues to increase unabated.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 740
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 45.7
Guatemala’s sugar consumption accounts for 35% of its total sugar production, with the rest being exported throughout the world and being an important economic indicator for the country.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 1,770
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 42.4
One of the biggest sugar consumers in Africa, Algeria imports around 2 million tonnes of sugar every year and decided to introduce a VAT on sugar imports to decrease them.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 1,200
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 48.1
According to the Government of South Australia, Australians consumer twice the recommended daily amount of sugar.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 6,200
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 42.2
Russia’s consumption of sugar has always been historically high and its own sugar production is continuing to grow healthily year on year.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 330
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 86.7
The tiny country of Mauritania only produce 330,000 metric tonnes but its per consumption capita is among the highest in the world.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 500
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 56.5
Israel recently decided to revoke its sugar tax, which has been called a major blow to the country’s public health, as higher taxes discourage people more from purchasing products which are unhealthy. With the repeal of this tax, it is likely that sugar consumption will continue to grow in a nation which is already among the biggest sugar consumers in the world.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 593
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 62.5
Belarus has been in the news for the past year for being Russia’s biggest backer in its invasion of Ukraine, but its also a major sugar consumer, with four refineries located within the country.
Total consumption (in thousand metric tonnes): 1,595
Total consumption per capita (in kg / capita): 50.1
Consuming around 1.6 million tonnes a year, Peru is one of the biggest sugar consumers in Latin America. In 2018, Peru imposed higher tax on sweetened beverages to discourage consumption, considering their link to myriad diseases.
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Disclosure: None. 20 countries with highest sugar consumption is originally published at Insider Monkey.