The 5 Countries That Produce the Most Sugar

The 5 Countries That Produce the Most Sugar

The 5 Countries That Produce the Most Sugar, About 80% of the world's sugar is produced from cane grown in tropical and subtropical climates. The remaining 20% comes from sugar beets, which are grown mostly in the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere. Brazil, India, Thailand, China, and the U.S. are the world's largest sugar producers. The European Union sits between India and Thailand but was left out as it consists of multiple countries.

Global Sugar Production Outlook

During the 2023 to 2024 crop year, global sugar production is expected to reach 187.9 million metric tons, up 10.6 million metric tons from the previous year.

Many factors affect sugar output, from weather conditions to geopolitical events and local politics. The expected uptick in production during the 2023-2024 season is due, in part, to the increased area devoted to sugar cultivation in Brazil and India, which more than offset a 12% production decline from Russia.

Key Takeaways on Sugar Production

The largest sugar-producing countries are Brazil, India, Thailand, China, and the U.S.

Sugar can be extracted from either sugarcane or sugar beets. Corn sugar is sometimes used as an alternative sweetener.

Brazil: Leading in Sugar Production

Due partly to favorable weather, Brazil's already massive contribution to the world's sugar supply is expected to increase by four million metric tons during the 2023-2024 harvest year, reaching 42 million metric tons.

The demand for sugarcane for ethanol and renewable fuels remains an important factor in the Brazilian market. With a forecast for flat consumption and growing supplies, Brazil could see sugar exports continue to rise.

India: A Significant Player in the Sugar Industry

India is not far behind Brazil in sugar production. In fact, it held the top spot as recently as 2021-2022. India's production is expected to increase by four million metric tons in the 2023-2024 season to reach 36 million metric tons.

India is also the world's leading sugar consumer, going through 31 million metric tons annually. According to forecasts, domestic consumption is set to grow based on stronger demand from bulk buyers and manufacturers of processed foods. Meanwhile, exports should stay relatively stable as the country aims to reduce inflation.

Thailand: Recovery and Growth

Sugarcane is one of Thailand's most important crops, and the country has been recovering from a drought that badly hurt its production in the 2020-2021 crop year. Production in 2023 to 2024 is expected to reach 11.2 million metric tons, a slight increase over the previous year.

While forecasts predict a record high of sugar exports from Thailand, domestic consumption is also strong, with improvements in the economy and the tourism industry boosting demand.

China: Anticipated Growth in Sugar Production

China's sugar production is anticipated to increase by one million metric tons to 10 million metric tons in the 2023-2024 season, with the country also seeing a boost from good weather.

Although China is one of the world's largest sugar producers, it is a net sugar importer. Forecasts call for sugar imports in China to rise to meet the gap between supply and demand, even as production in the country grows.

The United States: A Significant Sugar Grower

The U.S. is now the fifth largest sugar grower globally, with gross production expected to reach 8.4 million metric tons in the 2023-to-2024 growing season.

In addition to sugarcane and sugar beets, corn represents another sweet cash crop for U.S. growers. The U.S. produced 7.5 million short tons of high-fructose corn syrup in 2022, down from a high of over nine million in the 2000s. These sweeteners are often used as sugar substitutes in the beverage, dairy, and processed food industries.

EU's Contribution to Sugar Production

If the European Union (EU) were a single country, it would be the world's third-largest sugar producer, behind India and Brazil. During the 2023-to-2024 crop year, the EU is expected to produce 15.5 million metric tons of sugar, up 576,000 metric tons from the previous year.

Planting in other EU member countries has offset a decline in sugar beet acreage in France. The EU is the world's largest beet sugar producer, accounting for 20% of the world's total sugar production. Beet sugar is primarily produced in northern Europe, including in northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland.