Sugar Production Dips

 

Global production of sugar crops declined by 2.4 percent in 2009 to approximately 1.9 billion tons.1 (See Figure 1.) The drop follows three consecutive years of sharp increases: between 2005 and 2008, sugar production had increased by an average 7.5 percent annually.2 The 2009 decline is related to the global recession and to a steep increase in the price of sugar.

Sugar crops, as defined here, include sugarcane and sugar beets. Other sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, and artificial sweeteners are not included. Sugar crops were once largely used for food, but they are increasingly used to make ethanol for automobiles.

Sugarcane has grown in importance relative to sugar beets over the last half-century. (See Table 1.) Some 1.7 billion tons of sugarcane were produced worldwide in 2009, nearly quadruple the output of 1961, while harvested area increased by 2.6 times and yields by 41 percent.Sugar beet production, in contrast, increased by just 43 percent, and the harvested area shrank by 38 percent.Today, sugarcane accounts for about 88 percent of global sugar crop production.5

 

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