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El Niño Is Causing a Worldwide Sugar Shortage

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El Niño is almost over, but the wreckage of things it knocked over in its wake continues—and one of those things is your sugar supply. Eat your desserts while you still can, friends.

The Independent got a look at a new report from analytics firm Green Pool warning that a sugar shortage is headed our way. The demand for sugar has been on a steady rise—but so has the supply of sugar, and it didn’t seem like there would be much trouble keeping up. Until El Niño hit the world’s largest sugar suppliers with a drought.


After years of big surpluses, this was the first recent year of no surplus at all, with even a very small shortage—and next year that shortage is projected to be much bigger by almost five million tons as farmers attempt to recover from all that water loss.

Of course, the increase in global sugar consumption is not a particularly appealing trend for global health—certainly this is not as much of an emergency as some of the other shortage warnings we’ve faced recently. But it’s a good reminder about just how fragile our individual crops are. Swings in temperature and water, even relatively small ones, can easily knock crop production into chaos. As those get more and more common, the food shortages we see are only going to get worse.