Sugar production actually started in India in ancient times, where sugarcane juice was turned into granulated crystals. Honey was obviously used as a sweetener in other areas of the world back then. And did you know that Christopher Columbus brought the first sugarcane cuttings to the New World? Now Brazil has the highest per capita production of sugar in the world.
One growing byproduct of sugar production for food is fuel for energy such as ethanol.
Unfortunately, there are not too many sugar production companies that are publicly traded, but there are several that use sugar in their candy and chocolate products. Imperial Sugar Co. (IPSU) is a processor and marketer of refined sugar in several formats, including granulated, powdered, and liquid. The stock trades on the NASDAQ at seven times forward earnings and pays a yield of 0.7%.
Cosan Ltd. (CZZ), based in Brazil, is one of the largest growers and processors of sugarcane in the world and the largest ethanol producer in Brazil from sugarcane. This New York Stock Exchange (NYX) traded company trades at 9.3 times forward earnings and pays a decent yield of 2%.
If you think the price of sugar is going up, but you don't want to invest in commodities directly, you might want to consider the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Sugar Total Return Sub-Index Exchange Traded Note (SGG), which attempts to replicate the Dow Jones-UBS Sugar Total Return Sub-Index. This ETN, which also trades on the NYSE, has a one year total return of over 25%.
The other alternative is investing in companies that use sugar in their products, such as The Hershey Company (HSY), Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (TR), and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Inc. (RMCF). To see a free down-loadable list of all the candy and chocolate stocks, which can be updated and sorted, go to WallStreetNewsNetwork.com.
Disclosure: Author didn't own any of the above at the time the article was written.