Changes ahead for sugar?

November 19, 2012

America may be approaching a tipping point on sugar—with prices relatively high and people wanting to eat healthier.

Jackie Gleason might not swagger and say, “How sweet it is,” if he was a food manufacturer coping with U.S. sugar prices today.

Trade groups for bakers and confectioners pushed this autumn for sugar reform to be part of the Farm Bill, amid estimates that U.S. prices are 50% to 75% higher than world prices, reported FoodNavigator USA. Yet the American Sugar Alliance countered by saying, “Big Candy [is] lobbying Congress to bankrupt farms and outsource sugar jobs so they can pocket a few extra pennies a pound.”

Wherever this controversy winds up, The Lempert Report thinks consumers can use this as an opportune time to cleanse their palates and consume less sugar. People say they want to improve their diets, manage weight and avoid becoming part of the diabetes surge—so why not use higher prices of foods with sugar as a trigger to begin better habits.

If manufacturers feel too pressed by sugar costs, they might step up efforts to figure out how to ease sugar out of their food and beverage formulas—especially if they believe consumers are truly serious about getting their diets back on track New York City, other municipalities and school systems have been vocal about supporting improvements like these.

Sugar, of course, is in many categories beyond candies, ice cream, bakery treats and soda.  Think condiments, canned vegetables, yogurt and sauces as a few. To many people, we believe, these are less obvious sources of sugar they wouldn’t miss as much as a desired treat; they could easily substitute for a more favorable formula by a different brand.  Therefore, the potential for change storewide is broad. Now could be the time.