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How Will Sugar Fare in the New Year?

Jan 04, 2017

For more than 35 years, contentious debates have surrounded the U.S. sugar program and 2017 promises to be no different. This upcoming spring could bring the first listening sessions on the farm bill, which houses the federal sugar program, and the Department of Commerce’s final review on U.S. sugar suspension agreements with Mexico. For the more than 200 IDFA members that use sugar in their products and are affected by domestic supply levels and prices, the International Sweetener Colloquium is the perfect opportunity to get ahead of these issues.

The event, held Feb. 26-March 1 in Dana Point, Calif., is co-hosted by IDFA and the Sweetener Users Association. It will feature several sessions addressing the future of sugar policy in the United States, Mexico and around the world.

“Winners and Losers in the U.S. Sugar Market”

While one may always hope for the proverbial “win-win” situation, it is more likely that by February there will be both winners and losers in the U.S. sugar game. The complex interaction among the normal supply and demand elements, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program management decisions, a strengthening world sugar market and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s revisions to the suspension agreements will help some interests and damage others.

In this session, seasoned market analysts Frank Jenkins, president of Jenkins Sugar Group, and Craig Ruffolo, vice president and commodity expert at McKeany-Flavell Company, will triage the players.

“U.S. Sugar Policy in a New Environment”

The federal government’s sugar policy is contained in the farm bill, as well as the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule, trade agreements with certain countries and now in suspension agreements with Mexico. A panel of experts will discuss how U.S. sugar policy has evolved and where it may be headed with the suspension agreements playing a huge role in providing adequate supplies of sugar in the U.S. market. The session will feature a lively debate on the forces at play in the policy arena.

The panelists are Jack Roney, director of economics and policy analysis at the American Sugar Alliance; Mike Gorrell, president and CEO of the Imperial Sugar Company; and Bill O’Conner, agriculture policy expert at McLeod, Watkinson & Miller. Rick Pasco, president of the Sweetener Users Association, will moderate.

“Mexican Sugar Market Outlook”

With all Mexican sugar mills now in private hands, the government’s direct role in the sugar market has shrunk, but it is still a key player on the international trade side. Marketing the large new crop is requiring a careful balancing of sales to several different types of customers in Mexico, the United States and third countries. In this session, panelists directly involved in the Mexican sugar sector will guide attendees through the intricacies of industry decision-making.

Participants will include Paul Farmer, president of CSC Sugar LLC; Juan Cortina, president of Mexico's Sugar and Alcohol Chamber of Commerce; and Pablo Collado, general manager America at Czarnikow Sugar. Christophe Armero, director of international business and strategy at Beta San Miguel, will moderate.

A full agenda of sessions is available on the International Sweetener Colloquium microsite. Registration for the event is available online.

Members with questions may contact Maria Velasco, IDFA meetings coordinator and registrar, at

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