Top 5 Countries That Produce Sugar


Sugar is an essential commodity that is widely used in all parts of the world. We are using it in many ways including to improve the taste of food, as a preservative, and also as a sweetener. Though the countries which are producing sugar are not significant, you will be surprised to know that they are exporting the same in huge quantities. While there are many countries that produce sugar, the top 5 sugarcane producing countries account for over half of the world’s total production. 

Sugar is made from the sap of certain plants like sugarcane and beetroot plants. The sap is extracted and boiled to create a syrup that contains sucrose. This sucrose is then crystallized, dried, and sold as granulated sugar. The whole process takes quite an effort and resources which is why there are only a few countries that produce it in large quantities.

Here are the top five countries that produce sugar, along with their production figures.

1. Brazil:

Brazil is one of the leading exporters of sugar in the world and is also one of the major producers. The country produces approximately 26 million metric tons of sugar every year which amounts to approximately 17% of the world’s total production. Brazil has been a leading producer of sugar throughout its history as a country. It started producing sugar commercially as early as the 16th century when it was under Portuguese rule. The country has continued to be a leading producer and sugar exporter since then and there are many companies in Brazil that are involved in the commercial production of sugar. As per records, there were around 449 mills in Brazil that were involved in producing raw sugar in 2008-09.

2. India:

India slipped to second place in sugar production between 2019-2020, dropping to the top spot from Brazil. Economy of India produced 28.9 million metric tons of sugar. This is 17% of the world’s total sugar production of 166.18 million metric tons. India’s sugar production has declined since 2018/2019. However, the country expects a 17% increase in sugar production for 2020/2021. What’s more, India’s domestic consumption of sugar is projected to reach a new record of 28.5 million tonnes.

3. The EU

The European Union (EU) is the third largest producer of sugar, despite the political and economic integration of individual countries rather than a single nation. In the 2019/2020 peak year, the EU produced 17.25 million metric tons of sugar. It is the largest sugar beet producer in the world, accounting for 20% of the world’s total sugar production.

Beet sugar is produced in northern Europe, including northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. Sugar production in the EU is projected to decline again in the 2020-2021 peak year, to 16.1 million tonnes. Drought and beet yellow virus disease contributed significantly to the decline in European sugar production.

4. China

China produced 10.2 million metric tons of sugar in the fiscal year 2019-2020. Although China is the largest producer of sugar in the world, it is a net importer of sugar. The demand for sugar has increased significantly in the last few decades. Historically, there has been a big difference between the domestic price set by the Chinese government to support farmers and the falling price of international sugar.

The Chinese domestic sugar sector is finding it difficult to compete internationally. The production cost of sugar is higher than that of foreign competitors. The agreement with the World Trade Organization allows China to import 1.95 million tons of sugar annually at a rate of 15%. Imports in excess of that amount are subject to higher tariffs of 50% and additional permits are required.

In 2017 and the years that followed, China added an additional amount to that 50%. In 2019-2020, the total tariff for imports on permitted quotas was 85% or even 95%. Tariffs expired in May 2020 and China did not renew them, so they returned to 50%. China sometimes buys sugar from India.

5. Thailand

Sugarcane is one of the most important crops in Thailand. In the 2019/2020 crop year, the country produced about 8.25 million metric tons of sugar. Thailand is not only the fifth largest producer of sugar in the world but also a major exporter of sugar along with most of the country’s sugar. For the 2020-2021 crop year, sugar production for Thailand is projected to decline slightly to 7.9 million tonnes. Drought has reduced production. Domestic consumption of Thai sugar is expected to increase, further reducing the country’s export earnings from sugar.

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