High Prices, Eh? Hard to Find a Better Deal than U.S. Sugar
Americans who sweeten their coffee with sugar pay more for that sweet taste than their Canadian counterparts, one lawmaker recently complained at a Congressional hearing where he advocated tearing down the no-cost U.S. sugar policy and leaving the country dependent on foreign suppliers.
It made for a nice soundbite, but it turns out to be patently false.
First, it's an absurd statement since just about every coffee shop and restaurant in both countries—including the restaurants at the U.S. Capitol—give sugar away for free.
A commodity cannot be both extremely expensive and free. And while it's not free for the restaurateurs, each "free" packet runs them no more than a penny or two—something the markup on a $2 cup of joe more than makes up for.
But what if you aren't buying a cup of coffee every day and are brewing your own at home? Turns out you're still better off on the American side. According to the U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) the average cost of sugar at a U.S. grocery store is 71.70 cents per pound. Canadian government data shows an average cost in Canadian stores of 75.2 cents per pound, in U.S. dollars.
Of course, there are folks on both sides of the border who prefer artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Sweet'N Low, or Equal in their morning pick-me-up.
A recent USDA comparison of natural and manmade sweeteners revealed that sugar is the most affordable, whether you look at price per packet or price per ounce.
At 2 cents per packet, sugar equals the price of Saccharin, while Aspartame comes in twice as expensive. Sucralose weighs in at 5 cents per packet, followed by the most expensive sweetener, Rebaudioside, at 11 cents.
So, for those looking to object to America's sugar policy, you need to look beyond the coffee mug or our neighbors to the north for inspiration. Then again, it is hard to criticize a policy that operates at no cost to taxpayers, supports 142,000 U.S. jobs, and has kept supplies stable in America despite shortages around the globe.