The purpose of this study is to give a macro-level overview of the sugar industry within the scope of the United Nation’s (UN) ninth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 9). The goal covers three elements – Infrastructure, Industries and Innovation – each of which has direct relevance to the sugar industry. Key facets of the sugar industry are its level of industrialisation and its regional relevance. Within the global commodity industry, sugar is often perceived negatively, partly due to national campaigns that aim to reduce the consumption of ingredients such as fat, salt and sugar. However, the sugarcane and sugarbeet industry is also an integral part of a local economy, the extent of which is unparalleled within global agriculture. The global challenge for the sugar industry is to present these credentials, against the negative backdrop, and to continue to promote and enhance its contribution to regional economies, even when global sugar prices are weak.
Meanwhile, the challenge for regional and national governments is to support the industry, in order for it to sustain its regional contribution. This can be through supporting the smaller companies, which underpin the sugar industry in its operation, or through enhancing sales opportunities and margins, both domestic and for exports, or it could be through allowing the industry to shift its production profile into alternative outputs in order to create value-added and to potentially also move it away from the negative light in which it is viewed in some quarters today.
This study outlines the operational aspects of the sugar industry in first instance, after which these credentials are contrasted against the objectives under UN SDG 9 – which covers infrastructure, industries and innovation, three key areas in which the sugar industry excels and benefits the local economy. Although this is by no means the only SDG goal for which the sugar industry has direct relevance, and indeed performs better than other commodities, it is the focus of this study. Lastly, the study outlines the areas in which the sugar industry has or could provide further benefit towards the regional economy as well as the SDG9 objectives outlined by the UN.
Introduction 1 The Sugar Industry Infrastructure Industry Outline Harvesting Logistics Processing Industry Industry Maintenance and Investment Support Industries 2 Sustainable Development Goals The SDG 9 Metrics View on Other Agricultural Sectors Evidence of Regional Contribution 3 Adding Value to the Economy Urbanisation Renewable Energy Mobility / Private Transport Ocean Freight The Covid-19 Impact 4 Conclusion