World Sugar Trade

Sugar trade accounts for about 25% of world demand.

This share is higher than for the main agricultural commodities, grains, where this ratio ranges from 10% to 20%.

In the past, sugar trade was carried out mainly between governments through long-term agreements.


Over the last twenty years, sugar trade has been liberalized in many countries; the bulk of inter-state trade agreements no longer exists.


In 2014, total trade flow amounted to almost 57 million tonnes, of which 49 million tonnes traded in the so-called free market, comprising 33 million tonnes of raw sugar and 16 million tonnes of white sugar, and 7,5 million tonnes under preferential agreements, such as the Cuba – China Protocol, the EU preferential access granted to African-Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) and EBA (Everything But Arms) countries, and the US import quota as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico.  

On neither side of the world sugar trade (raws or whites) are there any real multinational companies producing and selling sugar in all continents. Trading houses are the only true global players.

As an effect of progressive trade liberalization and the new direction of the sugar policies, the world sugar economy and trade have become increasingly sensitive to world prices. Competition has increased worldwide between sugar processors. In the recent past, the five largest sugar exporters have represented 80% of total world sugar exports.

Sugar is increasingly traded as a raw material (raw sugar) rather than a finished product (white sugar).