In a pre-Easter article, Adam Allington of Bloomberg News claimed that consumers purchasing “chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and marshmallow Peeps” didn’t know that they were “paying a secret tax for these products, thanks to a Depression-era program of sugar supports and subsidies.”
The modern phrase for this kind of reporting is “fake news.”
There is no “secret tax” and there are no “subsidies.” The U.S. sugar program – consisting of limited import restrictions and tariffs on certain foreign competitors that DO subsidize their own sugar industries – operates at zero cost to taxpayers.
Mr. Allington went on to quote Matt Pye, senior vice president of disinformation for Just Born Quality Confections, who proceeded to expound upon Big Candy’s Big Lie campaign…
“Our number one ingredient in our Peeps, Mike and Ike, and Hot Tamales brands is sugar,” Pye told Allington. “U.S. sugar is about 40 percent higher than the rest of the world, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
Here’s what Pye conveniently failed to note…
The cost of U.S.-produced sugar today is about the same as it was before Reagan was elected president almost 40 years ago.
So the fact that a candy bar which cost 35-cents back in Reagan’s day now costs a $1.49 has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the cost of sugar, especially since – according to Phillip Hayes of the American Sugar Alliance who was also quoted in the column – there’s only 2 cents worth of sugar in a candy bar to start with.
Two pennies worth of sugar at the same price for sugar as almost 40 years ago is absolutely, positively not putting Big Candy “at a competitive disadvantage.”
What’s putting American candy makers at a competitive disadvantage is the sky-high cost of domestic labor here, combined with the higher costs for taxes, insurance, regulatory compliance and other government meddling.
If American sweets and treats manufacturers truly wanted to help consumers save money on their products, they’d focus on getting Congress to ease up on cost-inflating government policies and taxation rather than trying to stick it to American sugar farmers.