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Tuesday, November 15, 2005 

The Holidays May Not Be So Sweet

The cost of goods, especially sugar, is going up..up..up. Talk about having a "sugar high"

Thousands of acres of cane ready to be harvested were soaked in saltwater as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pounded the Gulf of Mexico 35 miles away. When the sea water receded, much of the cane was damaged and the fields were filled with torn-off porches, picnic tables, splintered furniture and stinking moss.

The loss of the Louisiana sugarcane and disruptions at two sugar refineries in New Orleans sent a shock through the sugar industry, which was already dealing with shortages because of hurricane-damaged crops in Florida last year.

"Sure, I'm gonna hurt," said DuPlantis, whose 3,000 acres of cane were flooded. "But that's small potatoes compared to the industry as a whole."

Since the end of August, the price of sugar has gone from 28 cents a pound to over 40 cents, according to the U.S.

Department of Agriculture citing industry publications. That's compounded the pricing difficulties the sugar industry faces — the government keeps prices for sugar considerably higher in the U.S. than on the world market by limiting imports and restricting how much sugar can be sold domestically.

The goal is to protect farmers and processors and ensure a steady supply of sugar. However, the price difference means that food manufacturers — and consumers — pay more than if there were no restrictions on imports. The world price for refined sugar averaged 14.18 cents a pound, according to the USDA.

The latest increase is being felt mostly by small confectioners, bakers and ice cream makers who don't buy their sugar on the futures market months ahead of time.

...To take the edge off, the USDA temporarily increased sugar imports and released sugar beet reserves into the market. More than half of the sugar refined in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, the rest is from sugarcane.

But neither the imports nor the reserves could stave off the price increases, because two of the country's largest refineries, both in New Orleans, were shuttered, said Salathe. When they reopen, it's hoped that prices will retreat. - AP
My favorite sugar..."C&H Pure Can Sugar It's the One!" (Amazing how jingles stay locked in the memory!) If you notice the "new" (and not improved, in my opinion) packaging of late, you will no longer see the traditional Hibiscus Flower that had been one of their trademarks to their logo. Apparently the C (California) part of the company got mad at the H (Hawai'i) part...or so someone gossiped to me. Whether that is true or not, I don't know...all I know is that I love their sugar! They also, as do I, suggest doing a random act of "sweetness"!

In all seriousness, is there a difference, from the cook's perspective, between brand-name sugar and, say, Safeway Brand granulated sugar? I tend to go with what's cheapest since that's just my way.

what happened to skippy's blog?

Hank - I can tell a difference between pure cane sugar and "beet" sugar that is sometimes found in the cheaper stuff. It mixes in better and has other subtle differences that can change textures. That's just my opinion though!

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