US confectionery industry chiefs have accused a US sugar lobby group of crying wolf with its claims Brazil’s annual US$2.5m sugar subsidies depress world prices by up to 30%.

A recent American Sugar Alliance report slammed Brazilian government programmes saying they give Brazil sugar exporters an unfair advantage.

However, the US’s National Confectioners Association (NCA) told just-food that not only do US sugar growers receive US$3.5bn per year in subsidies, US legislation guarantees a minimum price for sugar, forcing consumers and businesses to pay almost double the world price. The NCA wants the US Congress to liberalise the system during an ongoing review.

A spokesperson said: “Over the past four years….resulting record-high refined sugar prices have imposed a US$14bn hidden food tax on American consumers and businesses in order to provide a special interest subsidy to sugar producers.

“Now, it’s possible that the federal government, and ultimately taxpayers, may have to buy excess sugar from domestic producers at a cost upwards of USD80 million because of low raw sugar prices,” she added.

Brazil’s sugar industry supplies about half the international market.