Sugar rush: America will import more sugar this year than in past forty years

Gorging yourself on sugar might be horribly unhealthy, but Americans love to do it. In 2020, though, keeping up with that demand means that the industry must open the floodgates to lot, lot, lot more foreign sugar, reports NPR

Now, you might've heard about how the alternatively cold, wet, freezing, and generally terrible weather to hit the Midwestern United States in the fall of 2019 has caused some rather perilous situations for farmers, which means that America may suffer a french fry shortage after a poor potato harvest. However, this weather also damaged another crop that, perhaps, isn't talked about enough: beets. Yes, beets, those ruddy root vegetables that freaked you out the first time they made your poop red. Weird as this may sound, beets are the prime source for approximately half of the U.S. sugar supply, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the horrid weather conditions have led to a 10 percent drop in beet harvests this year. One beet farming collective, the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, got so damaged by the one-two knockout punch of rain and snow that they were forced to ditch 10,000 acres of the little red things. Yikes.

Now, if you can't make something yourself, what do you do? Borrow it from someone else, of course. That's why the U.S. is about to import sugar at record numbers.

Maybe America needs a sugar diet?

Now, should the U.S. be importing so much sugar? Definitely not. After all, artificial sugar condiments are actually killing you, and while it's one thing to sprinkle in a little when you drink coffee, Americans now (unintentionally) eat three desserts a day, to the point where Healthline called America's sugar obsession an "epidemic." Scary? It should be. However, rather than treating this sudden sugar shortage as a warning sign from the heavens, the U.S. is instead getting ready for a major importation spree. Because, you know, the candy industry demands it. Sugar producers have already told the candy companies that the regular supply just ain't coming, so they're looking to nab the sweet stuff from places like Mexico and Thailand. This is a big change from the past four decades, where the U.S. monitored sugar imports like a hawk, hitting most of the world with super-high tariffs that keeps sugar pricey, U.S. farmers happy ... and Americans paying more for candy products than the rest of the world. What, you didn't realize? Sorry.

This year, the U.S. sugar industry must import more sugar than it has since 1981 (3.86 million tons) just to stay afloat, most of it coming from Mexico. This ensures that Americans continue to get their desired sugar fix, but also require a more complicated development process, since the refined, homegrown beet sugar that most companies are used to will have to swapped out for raw sugar cane. The jury's out on how this will impact the future, of course, because it's not like today's climate conditions will get any nicer.