West Reading, PA — About a decade after the U.S. sugar program was inaugurated, Richard M. Palmer Sr. secured a loan and launched candymaker R.M. Palmer Co. in southeastern Pennsylvania. Now on its 70th anniversary, the company is joining the chorus calling for modernization of the U.S. sugar policy.
“Basically the sugar program is a Depression-era agriculture program that really needs to be modernized,” said Mark Schlott, R.M. Palmer executive vice-president of operations and COO. “It artificially inflates sugar prices making prices in the U.S. among the highest in the world. What it essentially does is controls the supply of sugar and really doesn’t let it control itself though the free market.”
He went on to note that Americans pay 40 percent more for sugar than other countries, including Canada and Mexico, according to newspaper the Reading Eagle.
“Our industry has lost a lot of jobs through the years as have other food industries. Sugar is used in many things: salad dressings, ketchup. It’s not just the confectionery industry,” Schlott said.
The R.M. Palmer executive is just one of many candymakers featured in a video series from the Alliance for Fair Sugar Policy, a broad-based coalition advocating to modernize the outdated and outrageous U.S. sugar program.
“It is not easy when you are going into some of the retailers and it’s penny profit we’re making here, and a penny or two can be the difference in getting an order and not getting an order,” Schlott said. “If everybody would be on a level playing field — and that’s all we’re asking for — I’m pretty confident that we can compete with anybody worldwide.”
For more from the video series or to find out how you can take action, visit fairsugarpolicy.org.