How The War Is Impacting Ukraine's Sugar Production

In food news, it's been widely reported in recent months that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has deeply impacted processes like grain exports, primarily due to the fact that certain blockades have caused a disruption to Ukraine's distribution. In June, Al Jazeera explained the rippling aftereffects of the invasion, noting that Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat, corn, barley, and sunflower oil. The barricades against Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia mean that the supply of those items has dropped radically, which sparked hunger in developing nations that relied on those supplies.

Fortunately, as Reuters reported, a deal was reached between Russia, Ukraine, and the U.N. that would allow ships carrying grain exports to leave Ukraine. The first of these reached Istanbul on Sunday. So, grain may begin flowing more normally. However, the understandable focus on products like grains and corn means that other aspects of Ukraine's food-producing economy that have also been impacted still require attention.

Ukraine's sugar industry has been affected

Reuters has reported that a third of Ukraine's sugar refineries will cease to operate at the end of August. The main reason is the ongoing invasion by Russia, which has in turn led to fewer sugar beets being grown than normal and gas prices rising. That said, the industry has actually produced enough sugar to meet both domestic and international demand for their 2022 to 2023 season, thanks to a stock of nearly 470,000 tons of sugar.

The reason why this doesn't have as much global impact, though, is that unlike wheat, Ukraine is a relatively small producer of sugar. According to Atlas Big, Ukraine's sugar production of nearly 2.5 million tons makes it only the 15th largest sugar producer in the world, while it is the seventh largest producer of wheat (via USDA). Moreover, even though millions of tons of sugar is a lot, it only represents about a fourth of what is made by Thailand, the fourth largest producer, while Brazil and India produce over 70 million tons of sugar between them. Thus, since Ukraine is not such a big sugar producer, the impact the invasion has had on the sugar market is more limited.