There is more sugar in the world's diet than ever before, but life is far from sweet for the exploited producers making nature's 'white gold' and the unhealthy consumers eating it.

Why has the billion-dollar sugar trade created such inequities? In this insightful analysis, Ben Richardson argues that the most compelling answers to this question can be found in the dynamics of global capitalism. Led by multinational companies, the mass consumption of sweetened snacks has taken hold in the Global South and underpinned a new wave of foreign investment in sugar production. The expansion of large-scale and highly-industrialised farms across Latin America, Asia and Africa has kept the price of sugar down whilst pushing workers out of jobs and rural dwellers off the land. However, challenges to these practices are gathering momentum. Health advocates warning against costly diseases like diabetes, trade unions fighting for better pay, and local residents campaigning for a cleaner environment are all re-shaping the way sugar is consumed and produced. But to truly transform sugar, Richardson contends, these political activities must also address the profit-driven nature of food and farming itself.

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  • October 2015
  • 232 pages
  • 158 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9780745680149
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9780745680156
  • Open eBook $19.95
  • 9781509501533
Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Growing Markets, Growing Waistlines

3. Terminal Trade Dependency

4. Exploiting and Expelling Labour

5. Expanding and Exhausting Land

6. A Sweeter Deal for All?

Selected Readings


About the Author
Ben Richardson is Associate Professor in International Political Economy in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick.
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"Ben Richardson?s Sugar is an intriguing survey of all things sugar, including consumption and foodways, the means of production, and how governments deal with their sugar industries and conduct their sugar-related international trade relations. True to his mission of providing a Marxist perspective, Richardson concludes by advocating for ?reform from below.? Sugar draws on the scholarship of many sugar experts and will be a valuable resource for journalists and others researching sugar issues."
Elizabeth Abbott, Author, Sugar: A Bittersweet History

"Sugar has shaped our history and our politics; it affects our health, and influences the livelihoods of millions. Sugar is a lens on a fast-changing, globalised world, where the politics of agrarian change, international commerce, workers? rights and human health must be examined together. This is a fascinating book that both informs and challenges. Anyone interested in global politics, agriculture, business and social change and justice should read it."
Ian Scoones, University of Sussex

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