Canadian Sugar Industry Statistics

Refined Sugar Production

Cane sugar

About 90% of Canada’s refined sugar (sucrose) is produced from raw cane sugar, imported from tropical regions, principally from South and Central America. Before it comes to Canada, sugar cane is partially refined into raw sugar at mills operated near the sugar cane fields. Bulk raw sugar is transported to Canadian ports in ocean-going cargo vessels which carry from 20,000 - 40,000 tonnes at a time. This “raw sugar” consists of brown, coarse granulated sugar crystals with many impurities making it unfit for human consumption. The sugar refining process is a capital intensive, technologically sophisticated process that separates the pure sucrose crystals from molasses, plant residue and other impurities.

To meet the Canadian food standard for sugar (at least 99.8% pure sucrose), refining is essential to remove impurities from raw cane sugar. 

Canada - Raw Sugar Imports for Refining
  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
South America 870,286 750,103 850,146 886,397 1,038,735
Central America 187,064 300,226 302,500 154,751 203,176
Mexico 122,779 50,491 11 67,186 77
Other 3,226 4,024 2,914 4,109 5,657
Total 1,183,355 1,104,844 1,155,571 1,112,443 1,247,645

Source: Statistics Canada International Trade Division

Beet Sugar

Refined sugar is also produced from sugar beets grown in Alberta. The sugar beets are harvested in the fall then processed to extract sugar and separate it from the fibre, water and other non-sugar materials. Major by-products of the beet sugar industry include beet pulp, which is used to produce a highly nutritious cattle feed, and molasses. Whether produced from sugar cane or sugar beets, the result is the same, pure sugar (at least 99.8% sucrose). 

Canada Beet Sugar Production
  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Sugar Beet Harvested Acreage 24,127 22,364 21,836 28,644 26,940
Sugar Beet Production (tonnes) 668,087 638,099 584,560 821,459 876,929
Refined Sugar Production (tonnes) 97,395 87,327 92,745 122,210 127,305

Source: Rogers Sugar and Alberta Sugar Beet Growers

Shipment and Product Types

Domestic and Export Shipments

The Canadian sugar industry produces and distributes approximately 1.3 million tonnes of refined sugar annually in four provinces. Refined sugar is produced from imported raw cane sugar and Canadian sugar beets. While Canadian companies have actively pursued export markets, export sales have been restricted by foreign trade barriers.

Canadian Sugar Shipments 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Domestic 1,153,857 1,132,217 1,159,908 1,187,756 1,225,753
Exports 25,701 35,984 39,787 46,046 57,547
Total Shipments (Tonnes) 1,179,558 1,168,201 1,199,695 1,233,802 1,283,300
% Change   -0.96% 2.70% 2.84% 4.01%

Source: Statistics Canada and KPMG

Retail and Industrial Shipments

Refined sugar is produced for both industrial (food manufacturers and food service outlets) and retail customers (packaged sugar for direct consumer use). More than 85% of sugar production is industrial.

Canadian Sugar Shipments: Retail and Industrial Share of Domestic Shipments
Industrial Retail  
1998 0.8104 0.1896
1999 0.8322 0.1678
2000 0.8426 0.1574
2001 0.8483 0.1517
2002 0.8536 0.1464
2003 0.8641 0.1359
2004 0.875 0.125
2005 0.876 0.124
2006 0.8778 0.1222
2007 0.8665 0.1335
2008 0.8793 0.1207
2009 0.8682 0.1318
2010 0.8711 0.1289
2011 0.8733 0.1267
2012 0.8621 0.1379
2013 0.8672 0.1328
2014 0.8662 0.1338
2015 0.8587 0.1413
2016 0.8662 0.1338
2017 0.8650 0.135
2018 0.87 0.13

*Source: KPMG 

Product Types

Granulated sugar is the most common form of sugar sold in Canada to both retail and industrial customers. Liquid sugar and liquid invert sugar are also used principally in the beverage and confectionery sectors. Specialty sugars such as brown or yellow sugar and icing sugar are also produced to meet varying consumer and industrial needs.

Canadian Sugar Shipments by Product Class (2018)
White Granulated 922,426
Liquid 270,402
Yellow/Brown 52,396
Icing 38,077

Source: KPMG

Sugar Consumption (Disappearance)

Statistics Canada publishes data on "food available for consumption" (i.e. disappearance or availability), including data for sugars and syrups made from sugar cane or sugar beets. These data reflect the total amount entering the market, regardless of final use. This data also accounts for Canada-US trade in sugar containing products, recognizing the significant trade surplus in sugar exported in food products.

Sugar disappearance data provides a basis for examining food consumption changes over time (trends). It is not a measure of actual sugar consumption because it does not account for losses at the retail level, in households, restaurants or institutions during storage and preparation, or for unconsumed food. 

Statistics Canada data for refined sugar indicates that per capita availability decreased between 1994 and 2018 from 38 kg to 30 kg per person per year. Actual consumption, using the Statistics Canada/USDA 41% waste adjustment factor1, is estimated to have declined from 22.3 kg to 17.8 kg per person per year (a decline from 61 g to 49 g per person per day). 

1Hall KD, Guo J, Dore M, Chow CC. The progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact. PLoS One 2009, 4, e7940.; USDA, ERS, Food Availability: Loss-Adjusted Food. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/loss-adjusted-food-availability-documentation/

Sugar Disappearance, Canada (kg per capita) kg per person
1994 38.0
1995 36.2
1996 36.1
1997 36.1
1998 33.2
1999 33.8
2000 34.5
2001 34.3
2002 34.4
2003 34.2
2004 34.0
2005 32.5
2006 30.5
2007 30.3
2008 31.2
2009 31.7
2010 29.8
2011 30.3
2012 29.1
2013 30.5
2014 30.2
2015 29.5
2016 29.5
2017 30.0
2018 30.3

SOURCE: Statistics Canada
 

NOTES:

  • Domestic supply is equal to production, imports and beginning stocks, less exports and ending stocks.
  • Statistics Canada data takes into account imports and exports of sugar in sugar containing products.
  • Sugar disappearance is not equal to actual sugar consumption.