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Expect higher candy prices on Valentine's Day

Natural disasters and bad weather in sugar producing nations are driving up sugar prices around the world.

February 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A sugar high could mean higher prices for candy this Valentine's Day and beyond.

A series of disasters in Australia's sugarcane region and foul weather in Brazil, India and China have driven up world sugar prices.

Australia is usually one of the world's top three sugar exporters. The trade group, Canegrowers of Australia, estimates that six months of floods did $500 million in damage to sugarcane and the hurricane damage is likely to equal that.

Many U.S. farmers are making enough to pay off loans and buy new equipment.

"I probably need to increase my prices again," said Jaye Cuccia, owner of Evans Creole Candy Factory Inc. in New Orleans. Cuccia raised prices in late November for the first time in about eight years and said what she pays for a 50 pound bag of sugar has nearly doubled since last year.

"The small companies buy small amounts of sugar. And they buy that sugar frequently," said Susan Smith, spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. Smith added that small candy makers are most likely to be affected by the increase in sugar prices.

The Associated Press contributed to this article