The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Mexican sugar chamber plans anti-HFCS effort

COEUR D’ALENE — There has been no effort in Mexico to question the impact of high fructose corn syrup on health and weight as there has been in the United States, but as HFCS increases its market share, the Mexican sugar industry is considering raising the issue.

At the American Sugar Alliance International Sugar Symposium here August 7, Humberto Jasso Torres, director-general of the Mexican National Sugar and Alcohol Chamber, noted that 30 percent of the sweetener used in his country’s soft drinks is now HFCS.

While some U.S. food companies have shifted from HFCS to sugar in reaction to consumer preferences and health concerns, Jasso Torres said no one has raised these concerns in Mexico.

“That is something I have to work on,” he said. “That is definitely one of our priorities. People are not aware that corn syrup exists and if they were aware it, would change the way they eat.”

Jassos Torre described the shift to HFCS in Mexico as one of the many complications for the Mexican sugar industry since free trade in sugar, HFCS and other agricultural products began under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

While the American sugar growers have feared the entry of Mexican sugar into the United States, Jasso Torres said the Mexican industry considered entering a free market with the U.S. “agricultural giant” to be “frightful.”

“We have 3 million farmers that have on average three acres each,” he said.

His conclusion, Jasso Torres said, is that the long-term Mexican-U.S. relationship in sweeteners under NAFTA is not yet clear.

“NAFTA is something we need to see mature and take care of continuously,” he said. “Export patterns have not matured yet. There are things that need to be studied more.”