TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — Increasing imports of sugar containing products (S.C.P.s) are raising concerns in the U.S. sugar industry and may be contributing to declining deliveries of domestic sugar, speakers said at the International Sweetener Symposium, sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance, which represents sugar beet and cane growers, processors and refiners.
S.P.C. imports have increased 7.4% on an annualized basis since the 2002 farm bill, Mike Gorrell, president and chief executive officer of Imperial Sugar Company, told symposium attendees on Aug. 7. Confections, chocolate and cookies make up 81% of S.P.C. imports, he said. S.C.P. imports are around 9 million tonnes and are expected to grow to 11 million tonnes by the time the new farm bill expires, he said.
“This is the next area of challenge,” Mr. Gorrell said. “We have to look at the S.C.P. issue.”
Sugar containing products do not fall under the control of the farm bill as do imports of actual raw and refined sugar as well as domestic production of refined beet and cane sugar.
Robert Cassidy, partner, Cassidy Levy Kent L.L.P., Washington, said it was difficult to estimate the amount of sugar actually entering the United States in S.P.C.s because the sugar makes up only a portion of total S.C.P. imports.
Paul Steed, senior global price risk lead for sugars at Mars Wrigley Confectionery, at the symposium Aug. 6 estimated sugar containing product imports at a net 1 million tons of actual sugar and growing.
“These are products not made with U.S. labor or U.S. sugar,” Mr. Steed said.
Speakers and attendees at the symposium said imports of sugar via sugar containing products was one factor contributing to what appears to be a decline in U.S. sugar deliveries for food. Other factors affecting sugar deliveries include slowing demand for sugar to replace high-fructose corn syrup and imports of sugar for direct consumption by “non-reporters,” which are companies other than cane refiners that import cane sugar.