Stuck at home, the world is eating less sugar
For years, governments, doctors and celebrity chefs tried and failed to get the world to consume less sugar. Then the pandemic hit.
The global closure of restaurants, sports arenas and cinemas means sugar demand will drop this season for the first time in four decades, according to Czarnikow Group. Drink and confectionery sales at giants including Coca-Cola Co. and Nestle SA have fallen, and while economies start to reopen, it’s unclear how quickly demand will recover as incomes and employment fall.
“Consumption out of home is normally more than what you would now substitute and have at home,” said Ben Seed, an analyst at Czarnikow in London. “If you go to the cinema you would probably quite happily have a liter or maybe more of soda while you watch the film, whereas we just don’t think people would drink a whole liter of soda while watching Netflix.”
The sugar industry was already under siege before the coronavirus hit. Demand growth — largely driven by developing countries — slowed in recent years as lawmakers from South Africa to Thailand taxed sugary drinks and health groups urged people to cut back on carbs amid obesity concerns. Companies responded by selling slimmed-down treats and sugar-free sodas.