ERS Charts of Note
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Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Total caloric sweetener deliveries from domestic producers and importers to end-users and brokers—an indicator of sweetener consumption in the United States—rose by 1 percent in 2021 to 127.4 pounds per capita. Annual growth in per capita sweetener deliveries had not been observed since 2014 amid the backdrop of a long-term declining trend that started after peaking at 153.7 pounds in 1999. Growth in 2021 was driven by an increase in refined sugar deliveries per capita, the largest component, which were up 1.9 percent in 2021 at 69.8 pounds and the highest since 1995. This growth countered the 1.2 percent decrease in per capita high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) deliveries to 39.5 pounds. HFCS deliveries, the other major component, have been steadily decreasing since topping out at 65.9 pounds in 1999, driving the long-term decline in total sweetener deliveries. While per capita deliveries of other caloric sweeteners (glucose, dextrose, honey, other edible syrups) increased by 2.4 percent in 2021, the volumes have been relatively small, historically hovering at 20 pounds. Some of the sweetened food and beverage products that are consumed in the United States, such as soft drinks, ice creams, or even U.S.-branded chocolates that are manufactured overseas, are imported. The contribution of these imports to per capita sweetener consumption is relatively small compared to domestic sweetener deliveries, but their share and volume have been steadily increasing since 2013, reaching 7.1 pounds per capita in 2021, an increase of 16.4 percent. Including estimated sweeteners from the imported sugar-containing products, per capita sweetener deliveries totaled 134.5 pounds in 2021. More information can be found in two special articles on sweetener deliveries that appeared in the January 2023 Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service.
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
U.S. residents are scooping less of their favorite frozen treats than two decades ago. In 2020, the most recent year for which complete data are available, the United States consumed about 21 pounds per person of frozen dairy products—about 5 pounds per capita less than in 2000. Consumption of regular ice cream in 2020 was estimated at 12.7 pounds per person, a decrease of about 3.4 pounds (21 percent) from 2000. At 6.9 pounds, per capita consumption of low-fat and nonfat ice cream was about the same in 2020 as in 2000. Consumption of other frozen dairy products, which include frozen yogurt, sherbet, and miscellaneous frozen dairy products, decreased from 3.4 pounds to 1.6 pounds per person in the same period. This downward trend in frozen dairy products is in line with a decline in consumption of total caloric sweeteners per capita from 149.0 pounds in 2000 to 122.5 pounds per capita in 2020, reflecting shifting preferences among consumers. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) data product, Dairy Data, published in September 2021. Information concerning caloric sweeteners is from ERS' Sugar and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables. The data for this chart do not account for spoilage, waste, and other losses. For data that take these losses into account, see ERS’ Loss-Adjusted Food Availability.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Over the last 30 years, U.S. honey production has declined by around 1.4 percent per year while honey imports have grown by 7.6 percent per year, filling the domestic supply deficit. Imports have exceeded domestic honey production since 2005 and accounted for 74 percent of total U.S. honey supplies in 2021. The top three foreign suppliers—India, Vietnam, and Argentina—supply more than 71 percent of imported honey. Honey imports have expanded with rising domestic consumption of honey and honey-sweetened products. This expansion reached an all-time high in 2021, when domestic production was at the lowest volume since 1991. In 2021, production in all three major honey-producing States—North Dakota, South Dakota, and California—were 25 percent lower than their 1991 levels while production in the rest of the States declined by almost half during the same period. With the number of honey-producing colonies mostly unchanged, the year-to-year marked decline in 2021 production was mainly due to decreased honey production per colony. Average honey production per colony fell from 55 pounds in 2020 to 47 pounds in 2021, the lowest volume since the early 1990s. The widespread drought that year in key honeybee foraging grounds reduced floral resources available to make honey, contributing to lower honey production compared to 2020. More generally, in recent years, commercial beekeepers have focused on pollination services, particularly for almonds, instead of honey production. This shift in focus has contributed to the lower per colony output trend. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Sugar and Sweetener Outlook, June 2022.
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Before 2008, Mexico provided a negligible share of U.S. sugar imports but has since become the largest supplier. Mexico’s increasing contribution to the U.S. sugar supply comes despite a limit imposed on the country’s exports to the United States under the terms of suspension agreements negotiated with the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2014. Until 1993, U.S. sugar imports from Mexico were limited to small shares allocated under World Trade Organization sugar quotas for the United States. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented, and sugar duties were phased out during a 15-year period in which additional Mexican sugar was periodically imported. In July 2006, the United States and Mexico negotiated additional import quotas, and in 2008, sugar trade between the two countries became duty and quota-free. This arrangement remains in place under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that replaced NAFTA in 2020. From 2008 to 2013, with no duties or quotas, Mexico’s share of total U.S. imports grew sharply and peaked at 64 percent in 2013. In 2014, after the U.S. International Trade Commission determined that sugar imported from Mexico injured the domestic sugar industry, the United States and Mexico negotiated agreements that suspended U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duties that would have been applied to Mexican sugar. The agreements provide for minimum prices in addition to quantity limits. Since then, Mexico has limited its exports to the United States to comply with the terms but remains the most significant supplier. This chart is drawn from Economic Research Service’s Sugar and Sweetener Outlook, December 2021.
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Over the last 20 years, the U.S. beekeeping industry has experienced significant changes that have included fluctuating honey bee colony numbers coupled with per colony honey yield declines. Through 2008, bee disease and elevated overwinter losses contributed to declining colony counts. In 2008, U.S. honey bee colonies totaled 2.3 million, the lowest on record. Reflecting the trend of retraction for much of the decade, the average number of U.S. colonies through the first 10 years of the 2000s totaled 2.49 million. As beekeepers adapted to bee disease challenges and overwinter losses lessened, the number of colonies began to steadily recover. The average number of colonies in the most recent decade was 2.7 million – nearly 8 percent more than in the prior 10 years. Even though colony numbers have largely recovered in the last decade, per colony honey yields have declined at a rate of about half a pound per year. From 2000 to 2009, the average U.S. colony produced 69 pounds of honey. In the most recent decade, that average slipped to 57 pounds. In addition to producing honey, honey bees provide pollination services, the demand for which has surged over the last 20 years. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently reported that beekeepers now receive about as much of their income from providing pollination services as from producing honey. This chart is drawn from the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook, June 2021.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
U.S. residents have been scooping less of their favorite frozen treats than two decades ago. In 2019, the most recent year for which complete data are available, U.S. residents consumed around 21 pounds of frozen dairy products per capita, about 4 pounds per capita less than in 2000. Consumption of regular ice cream in 2019 totaled 12.1 pounds per person, a decrease of about 4 pounds, or 25 percent, from 2000. At 6.6 pounds, per capita consumption of low fat and nonfat ice cream was about the same in 2019 as in 2000. Consumption of other frozen dairy products, which include frozen yogurt, sherbet, and miscellaneous frozen dairy products, decreased from 3.4 to 2.3 pounds per person. The downward trend in consumption of frozen dairy products corresponds with a 17 percent decline in consumption of caloric sweeteners between 2000 and 2019, reflecting increased consumer awareness about sugar intake. This chart is drawn from Dairy Data published by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS). Information concerning caloric sweeteners is from ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables.
Friday, June 18, 2021
U.S. imports of honey have surged by 73 percent in the last 10 years, reaching a near-record 433 million pounds in 2020. While domestic honey production has remained stable at around 156 million pounds per year, American consumers’ taste for honey and honey-sweetened products has grown. Imports now comprise a majority of total U.S. honey supplies. In 2020, imports accounted for 70 percent of total honey available for use in the United States, up from 54 percent in 2010. Since 2010, leading suppliers of imported honey by market share have varied, with Vietnam rising to the top position in 2020, followed by Argentina, India, Brazil, and Ukraine. Combined, these top 5 suppliers represented 88 percent of all imports in 2020. The growing volume of imports in the U.S. honey market has not been without controversy. In April 2021, U.S. producers filed anti-dumping petitions with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against several top supplying countries. The preliminary ruling found reasonable indication that imports of raw honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, Ukraine, and Vietnam allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value have materially injured the U.S. honey industry. The Department of Commerce will issue a report containing its preliminary anti-dumping duty determinations on honey imports later this year. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Sugar and Sweetener Outlook, June 2021. See also ERS report, Honey Bees on the Move: From Pollination to Honey Production and Back, published in June 2021.
Monday, May 3, 2021
In 2019, 123.2 pounds per person of caloric sweeteners were available for consumption by U.S. consumers, a 19 percent decrease from a high of 151.5 pounds per person in 1999. According to the USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, availability of total corn sweeteners (high-fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, and dextrose) contributed to the drop, falling from its peak of 83.6 pounds per person in 1999 to 52.7 pounds per person in 2019. High corn prices, price competition with refined cane and beet sugars and other caloric sweeteners, as well as shifting preferences among consumers and food manufacturers have contributed to this decline. Availability of refined cane and beet sugars fell from 102.3 pounds per person in 1972 to 60.0 pounds per person in 1986, then remained relatively flat for the next two and a half decades. Refined sugar availability began to rise in 2010, surpassing corn sweetener availability and reaching 68.4 pounds per person in 2019. Rising honey imports have contributed to recent increases in per capita honey availability, according to ERS’s Sugars and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables. In 2019, per capita honey availability stood at 1.3 pounds and per capita availability of edible syrups was 0.8 pounds. This chart is from ERS’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials data product, updated January 14, 2021.
Monday, August 10, 2020
The United States is one of the world’s largest sugarcane producers. U.S. production of sugar from sugarcane is projected at about 4 million STRV (short tons, raw value—a standardized measurement of the raw or pre-processed available sugar) in 2020/21. Production is concentrated in Louisiana and Florida, with small amounts in Texas. In Louisiana, the recent development of new varieties of sugarcane has pushed production further north and west from traditional sugarcane-growing regions in the State, which is historically ranked first in harvested area but second in production behind Florida. Louisiana sugarcane grows in the northern-most latitude growing region in the world, where the harvest, compressed by cool winter conditions, typically starts in late September and ends by early January. This expansion in acreage has enabled the State to have record production of sugar from sugarcane in two of the last three years. Louisiana is expected to harvest 480,000 acres of sugarcane in 2020/21, the most since 2003/04. Louisiana cane sugar production is currently projected to once again exceed 1.8 million STRV in 2020/21, with Louisiana accounting for 45 percent of U.S. cane sugar production and 20 percent of domestic sugar production. This chart is drawn from Economic Research Service’s Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook: July 2020.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
U.S. honey production has remained relatively stable over the past 10 years, averaging about 157 million pounds per year, even as producers have grappled with significant overwinter colony losses and variable honey prices. Forage-rich North Dakota leads the nation in honey production, and together with Montana and South Dakota, these Northern Plains States produced nearly half of all U.S. honey in 2019. While the volume of honey produced domestically has been relatively steady, U.S. consumption of honey and honey-sweetened products has steadily grown since the 1980s. To supplement domestic production and meet rising demand, a growing volume of honey has been imported. Beginning in 2006, imported honey has accounted for most of the U.S. supplies, reaching 416 million pounds and nearly 70 percent of total supplies for 2019. Imports combined with beginning stocks and production made about 614 million pounds of honey available in 2019—the third highest volume on record. Abundant supplies contributed to lower prices received by producers, with prices decreasing by 24 cents per pound for a year-to-year decline of 11 percent. Lower honey prices in 2019 gave rise to a $30 million (9 percent) decline in revenue received by U.S. beekeepers from honey production. Reduced returns from honey production were exacerbated by a more than $9 million reduction in net income derived from the provision of pollination services and sales of bee products (e.g. queens, beeswax). This chart is drawn from the Economic Research Service’s June 2020 Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook.
Monday, March 9, 2020
Sugar production in the United States and globally is dependent upon two crops: sugarbeets, grown in higher, typically colder latitudes; and sugarcane, which grows in lower, typically more tropical latitudes. Poor weather conditions have diminished the production outlook for both the U.S. sugarbeet crop—particularly in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana—and the sugarcane crop, especially in Louisiana. Sugar output is also expected to be significantly lower for 2019/20 in Mexico—the United States’ largest foreign sugar supplier—as drought conditions in several key sugarcane-producing regions are expected to reduce output considerably. The combined 2019/20 U.S. and Mexican sugar production is projected to be 9.7 percent below that in 2018/19, the lowest collective output since 2011/12. The reduced supply expectations are the main reason why the U.S. sugar market is forecast to be at its tightest since 2010/11, and why current U.S. wholesale refined sugar prices are 19 percent higher for cane sugar and 26 percent higher for beet sugar compared with a year ago. This chart is based on information in the Economic Research Service Sugar and Sweeteners Monthly Outlook Report and the Sugar and Sweetener Yearbook Tables.
Monday, December 9, 2019
The 2019/20 sugarbeet crop (which operates on an August-to-July crop year) was significantly affected by poor weather during the harvest season. Cold and wet conditions resulted in frozen ground in many regions—particularly in the major-producing States of Minnesota and North Dakota. Sugarbeets had to be left in the ground, unharvested, as equipment could not dig into the frozen soil to harvest this root vegetable, and many that were harvested late in the season were damaged and deemed unsuitable for processing. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) November 1 forecast, 14 percent of planted sugarbeet acreage is expected to go unharvested. In a typical year, 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent of the crop goes unharvested. The reduction in sugarbeet production accounts for a 5-percent decline in expected domestic sugar production, compared with October USDA forecasts. This chart is based on data in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook released in November 2019.
Per capita sweetener deliveries steadily declining largely due to reduced demand for high-fructose corn syrup
Friday, November 1, 2019
Total caloric sweetener deliveries in 2018 totaled over 40.7 billion pounds on a dry weight basis (water content removed), down 2 percent from 2017. This translates to 124.4 pounds per person, a 2.6-percent decline from the previous year. Refined sugar continues to make up an increasing share of per capita deliveries, while corn-based sweeteners, particularly high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), have trended downward since the early 2000s. On a per-person basis, deliveries of HFCS have fallen 40 percent since 2000, while refined sugar increased by 5 percent over the same period. This period coincided with various occurrences—higher input prices from global commodity price spikes; the growth of corn-based domestic ethanol production; increased imports of sugar supplies from Mexico; and greater attention to food labels by food manufacturers and consumers. However, per capita refined-sugar deliveries have declined slightly since 2016, suggesting a broader decline in caloric sweetener demand. Other caloric sweeteners, such as the corn sweeteners dextrose and glucose, and other sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, molasses syrups, and fructose syrups, make up a relatively minor share of total deliveries. This chart appears in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook newsletter released in August 2017.
Per capita sweetener deliveries show steady downturn largely due to reduced demand for high fructose corn syrup
Monday, October 7, 2019
Total caloric sweetener deliveries in the United States in 2018 totaled over 40.7 billion pounds (124.4 pounds per person) on a dry weight basis (water content removed), down 2 percent from 2017. The refined sugar share of per capita deliveries continues to rise as the corn-based sweeteners share, particularly high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has trended downward since the early 2000s. On a per person basis, deliveries of HFCS have fallen 40 percent since 2000, while refined sugar increased by 5 percent over the same period. This period coincided with higher input prices from global commodity price spikes; growth of corn-based domestic ethanol production; increased availability of sugar supplies because of increased imports from Mexico; and greater attention to food labels by food manufacturers and consumers. Nonetheless, per capita refined sugar deliveries have declined slightly since 2016, suggesting a broader decline in caloric sweetener demand. Other caloric sweeteners, such as the corn sweeteners dextrose and glucose, honey, maple syrup, molasses syrups, and fructose syrups, make up a relatively minor share of total deliveries. This chart appears in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook newsletter released in August 2017.
Thursday, July 11, 2019
In 2017/18, global sugar production reached record levels, leading to a sharp and sustained drop in sugar prices on the world market. Lower global sugar prices have translated to diminished returns for sugar producers. Brazil’s sugarcane sector has adapted to low returns for sugar exports by processing a higher share of sugarcane for ethanol production. In 2018/19, only about one-third of sugarcane harvested in Brazil’s main Center-South Region was crushed for sugar production—a substantially lower share than in the past decade. The remainder was processed into ethanol. This change in sugarcane usage represents a 26-percent decrease in sugar use relative to 2017/18 and a 16-percent increase in ethanol use. In Brazil, hydrous ethanol has increased its market share against gasoline for the past several years, as most Brazilians drive flex fuel vehicles (FFV)—cars that can use both gasoline which includes ethanol in its blend or pure hydrous ethanol. This extensive use of ethanol is economically feasible as ethanol has grown increasingly competitive against rising gas prices, particularly in the Sao Paulo and Center-South fuel markets, which are close to sugarcane ethanol processing facilities. Increased ethanol production in Brazil also influences the U.S. ethanol market because Brazil is a major importer of U.S.-produced ethanol. This chart appears in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook report released in June 2019.
Friday, October 5, 2018
In 2006, large and mysterious losses of honey bee colonies led entomologists to classify a set of diagnostic symptoms as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and spurred major efforts to measure, quantify, and understand pollinator loss. New data show that, between 2007 and 2013, winter colony loss rates in the United States averaged 30 percent, which is approximately double the loss rate of 15 percent previously thought to be normal. Elevated winter colony losses, however, have not resulted in enduring declines in colony numbers. Instead, the number of U.S. honey bee colonies is either stable or growing depending on the dataset being considered. At the State level, loss rates are uncorrelated with year-to-year changes in the number of colonies, suggesting that beekeepers are able to replace lost colonies within the course of a calendar year. In other terms, the data indicate that beekeepers are adding colonies at similar or higher rates than they are losing them to CCD or other causes. This chart appears in the October 2018 ERS Amber Waves article, “Despite Elevated Loss Rate Since 2006, U.S. Honey Bee Colony Numbers Are Stable or Growing.”
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Favorable growing conditions in South and Southeast Asia raised global sugar production forecasts for the 2017/18 marketing year, increasing the estimated production surplus for the global sugar market to its highest level in several decades. Production surplus can be defined as global sugar production minus the amount of sugar consumed each year. A positive production surplus results in rising stocks of sugar held in storage around the world, which puts downward pressure on global sugar prices. Production in 2018/19 is projected to decrease from the previous year but still be sizable by historical standards due to higher production forecasts for India and Thailand, in particular. As a result, supplies are projected to outpace use and increase global stocks-to-use ratios, limiting opportunities for price increases in world sugar futures markets, which have been falling since October 2016. The average world futures contract price in the April-to-June quarter was 11.91 cents per pound, which was 21.5 percent lower than the previous year. This chart appears in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook newsletter released in June 2018.
Monday, June 4, 2018
Domestic production of honey is significantly exceeded by the amount of honey imported into the United States each year. Since 2006, more than half of all honey supplied in the United States was imported, and that number reached 70 percent in 2017. This represents the highest import level on record, continuing the longer term trend of a growing share of honey supplies coming from foreign sources. The largest foreign source of honey in 2017 was India, outpacing Vietnam and Argentina, the second and third leading sources, respectively. Although U.S. honey imports were recorded for many different countries in 2017, the top five foreign suppliers (Vietnam, Argentina, India, Brazil, and Ukraine) accounted for 77 percent of total imports. While imports have risen in quantity as well as in share of supply, national average honey prices for domestic honey remain high. In 2017, wholesale prices averaged 215.6 cents per pound, just below the 2014 record of 216.1 and more than twice as high as prices in the mid-2000s. This chart appears in a special article in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook released in May 2018.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
One of the major developments in the U.S. sugar market during the 2016/17 marketing year occurred when the beet and cane sugar sectors returned to the levels of the broader market. Ending stocks for cane and beet sugars diverged significantly in 2015/16, with extremely tight cane sugar supplies and ample beet sugar inventories. This resulted in large price differences in refined cane and beet sugars. The price differential also played an important role in reconciling the divergences in the cane and beet sugar sectors. Wholesale spot prices of refined cane sugar began the year at a 5.5-cent per pound premium to refined beet sugar. That premium grew to nearly 8 cents by March before narrowing to 2.5 cents by the end of the year. With demand for sugar continuing to grow steadily, the relative beet sugar price discount was one of the key market drivers that spurred the large beet sugar deliveries and drew down inventories. While the price differential narrowed, refined cane sugar prices finished the year higher than they started, reflecting both the constrained supplies in the cane sugar sector and the broader U.S. refined sugar market. This chart is drawn from the special article Beet and Cane Sugar Inventories Return to Comparable Levels After Divergence in 2015/16, published in the November ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlooknewsletter.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Total caloric sweetener deliveries in 2016 totaled over 41 billion pounds on a dry weight basis (water content removed), down marginally from 2015. This translates to 128.1 pounds per person, a 0.7-percent decline from the previous year. Refined sugar continues to make an increasing share of per capita deliveries as corn-based sweeteners, particularly high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has trended downward since the early 2000s. On a per person basis, deliveries of HFCS have fallen 34 percent since 2000, while refined sugar increased by 6 percent over the same period. This period coincided with higher input prices from global commodity price spikes; the growth of the corn-based domestic ethanol production; increased availability of sugar supplies because of increased imports from Mexico; and greater attention to food labels by food manufacturers and consumers. Other caloric sweeteners, such as the corn sweeteners dextrose and glucose, honey, maple syrup, molasses syrups, and fructose syrups, make up a relatively minor share of total deliveries. This chart appears in the ERS Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook newsletter, released in August 2017.