'Indian sugar consumption stagnant, need to bust myths'

India's sugar consumption stagnant; need to bust myths about its use: Centre

The country's annual sugar consumption stood at 25-26 million tonnes, while production reached 27.5 million tonnes in the 2019-20 season ending September.

Representative image/Credit: Pixabay Image

The government on Wednesday said there is a need to address "myths and misgivings" about sugar consumption in India, as the per capita consumption of the sweetener has remained stagnant for the last three years at 19 kilogram.

Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, after launching industry body ISMA's portal said India is one of the world's largest consumers of sugar but per capita consumption has remained stagnant at 19 kg, much lower than the world's average per capita consumption of 23.50 kg.

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The country's annual sugar consumption stood at 25-26 million tonnes, while production reached 27.5 million tonnes in the 2019-20 season ending September.

"There are a lot of myths going around about sugar and sugar consumption without scientific basis. This misinformation multiplies much faster than the truth multiplies. Therefore, it is very important to come up with scientific information so that people can make very informed decisions," Pandey said.

Pandey further said there is also "misunderstanding" about Indian sugar abroad.

"Somehow, it has been created that Indian sugar industry or Indian sugar is not as good as perhaps the Brazilian sugar or Thai sugar which is not the case," he said.

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To counter the false narrative, the Secretary said that Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) through its portal 'http://meetha.org' and social media campaigns aims to educate people with right and scientific information about sugar.

He suggested the industry body to launch the portal in regional and foreign languages as well for better reach.

The Secretary also mentioned that sugar consumption depends on many parameters such as economic growth, consumption pattern and expenditure.

Echoing similar views, Joint Secretary in the Food Ministry Subodh Kumar Singh said that there is "a campaign against sugar and sugar products in India that they are harmful and are the main cause of obesity and diabetes."

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"We are a sugar producing country and have surplus sugar. But our per capita consumption is very less. This is because rich people who can afford do not want to eat sugar. Something is going against sugar. Through 'http://meeta.org' we will inform the people about good effects of consuming sugar," he added.

For example, in Israel, per capita sugar consumption is 60 kg. "If sugar is harmful, it should be harmful in all developed and other countries where sugar consumption is more than the world's average," he noted.

ISMA President Vivek M Pittie said sugar has been "victim of misgivings" and added that consuming sugar in limits is not that bad for health.