The real reason France is ramping up sugar production

As Reuters explains, sugar production is an energy-intensive process and French factories depend on natural gas to power it. Production typically runs from late September to February, however, the French government has warned industry leaders that businesses will be the first sector hit if tougher gas regulations are needed this winter. France is particularly concerned about the possibility of a gas shortage, as more than half of the country’s nuclear reactors – which are responsible for 70% of the country’s energy – are undergoing maintenance (for American News).

In anticipation of a possible shutdown or a possible increase in energy costs, Reuters reports that sugar manufacturers Tereos and Cristal Union have chosen to increase production and are offering incentives to beet growers who want to start their harvest earlier. The hope is that by starting production early, companies will be able to finish production before the coldest months of the year, when gas would be in greatest demand for heating and power needs. It’s a risky decision because sugar beets produce less sugar if harvested too early. However, a Reuters A report published a few weeks ago suggested that the French sugar beet harvest should exceed the five-year average, despite the country’s hot and dry summer conditions.

Soaring natural gas prices have led other industries to cut production, including fertilizers, leading to a CO2 shortage in Europe. By getting ahead of further price increases, the sugar industry could avoid similar problems.

Rachel J. Bradford