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Sugar Market: Key Facts & Statistics to Know in 2018

02 Oct 2018 • by Natalie Aster

LONDON – Sugar is an essential part of the diet found in many staple foods across different regions. This natural sweetener is processed and used in almost every segment of the Food  & Beverage industry. Though sugar is a source of carbohydrates and energy, it provides empty calories. The consumption of large quantities of sugar can give a person a feeling of satiety without providing any necessary nutrients.


To date, over 130 countries in the world are engaged in the production of sugar either from sugarcane or from sugar beet; 10 of these countries produce sugar from both beet and cane crops. The bulk share (appr. 80%) of the overall sugar production is obtained from sugarcane. During the recent years, the production of sugar has become increasingly concentrated: in the year 1980, the top 10 countries together contributed a share of around 56% to the global production volume, whereas as of 2016 the share of the top ten producers reached 76%.

The total volume of the global sugar production has demonstrated an upward move since the crop season 2015/16 when it was estimated at slightly over 164.7 million metric tons (MMT). In 2017/18, it registered a YoY gain of about 10% and went beyond 191.8 MMT. During the crop season 2018/19, appr. 188.2 MMT of sugar are expected to be produced in total globally.  

World’s sugar production volume over 2008/09 – 2018/19* (in MMT)

World’s sugar production volume over

As of 2017/18, Brazil was at the forefront of the global sugar production – the country’s output totaled around 38.87 MMT. Sugarcane is the key source of sugar in Brazil. The South-Central region is recognised as the hub of the country’s sugarcane industry.

The second spot on the list of the world’s dominant sugar producers is held by India. The country produced nearly 32.45 MMT of sugar in the crop year 2017/18. Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are major sugar-producing regions in India.

The EU ranks the third biggest producer of sugar around the globe. The EU sugar production volume reached 21.15 MMT in 2017/18.

Top 10 sugar producers worldwide in 2017/18 (in MMT)


Top 10 sugar producers worldwide in 2017/18 (in MMT)

Thailand accounts for the fourth largest share in the global sugar production. The country produced appr. 13.73 MMT of sugar in 2017/18. Thailand is also one of the leading exporters of sugar in the world owing to the poor demand for this product in the domestic market. The North and Northeast regions account for the biggest shares of the Thai sugar production.

China is the fifth leading producer of sugar. In 2017/18, the volume of China’s sugar production totaled about 10.25 MMT. The South and Southwest regions make the largest contribution to the country’s production of sugar.


The volume of the world’s sugar consumption has exhibited a steady increase during the past decade, spurred majorly by the increasing global population, rising disposable incomes, and constantly changing dietary patterns. In 2009/10, around 154.1 MMT of sugar were consumed throughout the world. Meantime, the global sugar consumption volume climbed to nearly 174.13 MMT in 2017/18 and is projected to cross 177 MMT in 2018/19.

World’s sugar consumption volume over 2009/10 – 2018/19* (in MMT)

World’s sugar consumption volume over 2009/10 – 2018/19* (in MMT)

Presently, developing countries capture a share of about 77% of the world’s total sugar consumption, and are anticipated to be the major contributors to the demand growth in the coming years. Asia grabs the biggest share (appr. 40%) of the world’s overall sugar consumption. It is followed by Europe with a share of nearly 16%.

India, the EU, and China are the top three consumers of sugar in the world. In 2017/18, India consumed 26.5 MMT of sugar, the EU – 18.8 MMT, and China – 15.7 MMT. Together top three sugar consumers account for a share of almost 34.5% of the world’s total consumption volume.

Top 10 sugar consumers worldwide in 2017/18 (in MMT)

Top 10 sugar consumers worldwide in 2017/18 (in MMT)


In 2017/18, the world’s sugar exports surged to appr. 63.08 MMT, up from 58.72 MMT in the previous year. In 2018/19, the global sugar exports are poised to decline to 62.8 MMT. Brazil, Thailand, and Australia are the top three exporters of sugar in the world, together capturing a share of about 65.6% of the world’s total exports volume. Brazil has maintained the dominant position in terms of sugar exports volume for many years. In 2017/18, Brazil exported nearly 28.2 MMT of sugar, what is equal to around 44.7% of the world’s total exports. In the same season, Thailand exported appr. 9.5 MMT of sugar, and Australia – 3.7 MMT.

World sugar trade (exports & imports) during 2012/13 – 2018/19* (in MMT)

World sugar trade (exports & imports) during 2012/13 – 2018/19* (in MMT)

The world’s total sugar imports have experienced a steady upturn since 2015/16. In the 2017/18 season, the volume of sugar imported worldwide climbed to 53.7 MMT. However, it is projected to fall to nearly 52.5 MMT in 2018/19.

Indonesia, China, the US, the UAE, and Bangladesh are the world’s major sugar importing nations. In the 2017/18 season, Indonesia imported about 4.45 MMT of sugar, China – 4.2 MMT, the US – 3.11 MMT, the UAE – 2.94 MMT, and Bangladesh – 2.67 MMT. Top 5 importers together accounted for slightly over 32% of the world’s total sugar imports volume in 2017/18.


The global sugar market is slated to continue witnessing positive growth in the coming years, majorly owing to the booming food & beverage industry, increasing number of non-food applications (across such sectors as bioplastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc.) along with the mounting demand from emerging countries. However, the enhancing health consciousness of consumers and the rising availability of substitutes (e.g. stevia, aspartame, etc.) act as the major restraints of the sugar market growth. The world’s sugar production may reach the volume of 194 MMT by 2023, registering growth at a 3% CAGR.

© MarketPublishers.com, 2018

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