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Sugar or fuel?

Our addiction to sugar could soon be costing us more. That’s because of COVID-19 restrictions in the world’s top exporter of sugar, Brazil. The South American country is experiencing a debate amongst its millions of people over food-versus fuel.

Currently there are record prices being paid for ethanol as restrictions on movement in Brazil begin to lift leading to a hefty increase in the use of the biofuel that is derived from sugar cane. The prospect of more of the crop being directed to the manufacture of fuel is a real possibility and would lead to large increases in the cost of producing sugar as a sweetener instead. Already there has been a 10 per cent jump in the price of price that was in part due to a severe drought in Brazil. The effects of the pandemic on Brazilian industry also saw a 31 per cent drop in cane crushing activities in the first half of April 2021 compared to the same time in 2020.  

International traders have also added their cut to the price, future prices in New York shot up by 73 per cent in the last year. This will, inevitable, be passed on to the consumer when food manufacturers factor in their increased costs.

This all makes the production of sugar-based ethanol as a fuel a much more attractive proposition.

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