Sugar futures are a highly valued commodity futures product. The appeal of sugar futures as an investment stems from its wide use throughout the globe. As such a popular commodity futures product, investors can use sugar futures to make plays against strong or weak economies, as well as weather conditions and government policies around the world.
Sugar futures began trading in the United States in 1914 on the coffee, sugar and cocoa exchange in New York and the New York Board of Trade. Options on sugar futures were introduced in 1982.
Sugar as a product dates back as far as fourth century India and was once so rare it was referred to as “white gold”. Sugar cane, which was the first source of sugar, is a perennial grass that is grown in tropical and subtropical areas. Eventually, beets were discovered as a source of sugar.
Today, sugar can be found throughout the world, with more than 120 countries producing it for domestic and international use.
The two sugar futures markets that are traded include world sugar No.11 and U.S. sugar no. 16. While Sugar no. 11 is the most commonly-traded international commodities futures product, Sugar no. 16 futures prices are often higher. The discrepancy in prices is due to subsidies and a tariff program that supports U.S. sugar farmers.
Around 160 million metric tons of sugar is produced every year, with the largest producers being Brazil, India and the European Union. The primary driver of sugar prices is government regulation. Many governments heavily subsidize their sugar manufacturers to "dump" cheaply priced sugar in the market.
Currently, 69 percent of the world's sugar is consumed in its country of origin, while the rest is traded on international markets.
You can learn more about Soft futures by downloading our guide, Free Fundamentals of Trading Soft Futures.
|Contract Symbol||Contract Unit||Price Quotation|
|ISB||112,000 lbs||cents per pound|
|Trading Exchange||Trading Hours||Tick Value|
|ICE||3:30 - 13:00 (NY)||$0.01/lb = $11.20|