Corn has more to gain than lose in sugar case

Jacquie Voeks

A market analyst says the corn industry has more to gain than lose in its legal battle with sugar processors over the branding of high fructose corn syrup as corn sugar.

Jury selection began last week in a Los Angeles federal court room and Jacquie Voeks with Stewart-Peterson says a win for the corn refiners would result in more than the reported $530 million requested in damages.

“Ultimately, this could be a situation where we could see and increase in use (of corn) again.  So if they could change (the term) to corn sugar it would be the best thing on the face of the Earth.”

The case has been years in the making and stems from a TV commercial in which the corn refiners advertised that high fructose corn syrup is the same as cane sugar, which the sugar industry insists is not.

Voeks tells Brownfield a corn refiner victory would allow them to re-advertise corn sugar.

“Right now when you bring up high fructose corn syrup to the public, they think it’s terrible and really bad for you.  So if they can reeducate the public with this Sweet Surprise, they will not only get money but could regain the market-share that they lost.  Thus, more corn usage.”

Even if the sugar processors were to win the case, Voeks says the current price of corn relative to sugar would help soften the blow to the corn industry.

“Corn is cheap at the moment and sugar is not.  Sugar is at $13 to 13.70.  Those are not cheap numbers, and they’ve been as high as $20.  But believe me they’ve been a great deal lower than this, so they’re scared to death.”

She says the sugar industry has concerns it will lose market-share to corn whether it wins the case or not.

Voeks also expects that if the corn refiners win in federal court, they will again ask the USDA to rename high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar.”






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