The American Sugarcane League and its partner, the Sugar Association (SAI) celebrate October 14, 2022 as the first annual National Real Sugar Day.
It’s the day to celebrate real sugar with your sugar producing neighbors in Louisiana as well as the sugarcane industries in Florida and Texas and the Midwestern sugarbeet producers. We are the people who bring real sugar from our farm to your table for you to enjoy as part of a balanced diet.
“Many consumers are confused about how real sugar fits into their diet, but according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there is room – up to 10 percent of daily calories – for sugar in a balanced diet,” said Courtney Gaine, Ph.D., RD, SAI president and CEO. “For thousands of years, sugar has helped us celebrate life’s sweet memories, so we thought it was time to turn the tables and officially celebrate real sugar and the many roles it plays in our lives.”
“In Louisiana, the birthplace of the American sugar industry, folks understand how important sugar is to our economy and all the hard work it takes to make a pound of sugar,” said Randy Romero, president of the American Sugar Cane League. “We’re proud to celebrate our industry and want the whole country to celebrate real sugar with us.”
In addition to National Real Sugar Day, Louisiana will be celebrating the sweet commodity in New Iberia at the 79th Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival September 22-25. David Thibodeaux, the mill manager of St. Mary Sugar Co-Op in Jeanerette was selected to serve as King Sucrose. We’ll celebrate sugar with parades, pageants and a fais-do-do (Louisiana French for an evening street dance).
There’s good reason to celebrate real sugar. The sugarcane industry is an important economic driver for Louisiana and has been for more than two centuries. The crop is grown in 24 parishes and supplies enough cane to support 11 sugar mills. Those mills will produce nearly two million tons of raw sugar this year. That’s enough raw sugar to fill up Tiger Stadium one and half times. A recent Texas A&M study shows that Louisiana’s cane industry supports more than 19,000 jobs and has an overall economic impact to the state of more than $4 billion.
Nationally, real sugar is produced by nearly 12,000 beet and cane sugar growers. The United States sugar industry generates 142,000 jobs in 22 states and contributes $20 billion to our national economy annually.
In a March 2021 survey, U.S. consumers listed sugar most frequently when asked to name any ingredients that come to mind that make food or beverages enjoyable to eat or drink. On the flip side, while people say it is their favorite ingredient, almost half of consumers are unsure where sugar comes from with 46 percent unaware that real sugar comes from plants. There is a lot of opportunity for the industry to increase awareness around what real sugar is. Real sugar has been a part of our diets for thousands of years, and there is so much to share about the many functions sugar has in food.
Real sugar is grown and harvested on sugarcane and sugar beet farms. And the same pure sugar found naturally in the plant is what ends up in kitchens across the country.
Sugar is a versatile and irreplaceable functional ingredient in food. Without sugar, ice cream wouldn’t be so creamy, crackers wouldn’t be as crispy, and breads wouldn’t be so light and airy. Beyond providing sweetness, sugar is also used to balance acidity, add bulk, or prevent spoilage. Additionally, sugar is used in the production of medication, to make bioplastics for planes, and can extend the life of your fresh cut flowers. With all these valuable functions, sugar can’t simply be replaced by another single ingredient.
As one of the world’s oldest documented commodities, sugar has been consumed by people all over the globe for thousands of years, with the earliest records of domestication of sugar cane dating back to 8000 BC in Papua New Guinea where the indigenous people chewed it raw. From there, it spread across the globe. In 1747, sugar was identified in beet roots, giving us the second crop from which real sugar is extracted today. In the United States today, about 9 million tons of sugar from cane and beets are grown and processed in 17 states each year.
How to observe #NationalRealSugarDay:
Bake or cook something with #RealSugar to share with family, friends, and online.
Share images of sugar beet or sugar cane harvest online with #RealSugar.
Pose with your favorite type of real sugar or sugar-containing food and post to social media.
Share real sugar-containing recipes online.
Share stories of where real sugar comes from by posting images of sugar beets and sugar cane.
Share images and stories of the farmers who grow real sugar.
Teach your class about where real sugar comes from and enjoy something made with real sugar together. SAI’s STEAM packet has many accredited classroom resources.
For more information, visit www.LaCane.org or www.sugar.org, follow us on Twitter (@LASugarcane) and connect with us on Facebook.