The Real Reason Brown Sugar Is More Expensive Than White Sugar

The battle over brown and white sugar is a tale as old as time. Both sugars have been subject to constant comparison based on overall taste, nutritional value, and overall cost. Nutritionally, there isn't much of a difference between white sugar and brown sugar, Healthline reports. For starters, both sugars are derived from the sugarcane or sugar beet plant. 

Brown sugar packs a tiny bit more iron, calcium, and potassium than white sugar, but not enough for everyone to start taking spoonfuls of brown sugar daily. Clinical Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta details to NDTV Food that brown and white sugar are also essentially the same when it comes to calorie levels as well. But, one area where shoppers can find a real difference that can majorly affect them is in how much they each cost. What Sugar Blog notes that unrefined brown sugar can cost more than both white sugar and refined brown sugar and explains that it has to do mainly with where the sugar is sourced from. Another difference can be found in how it is made.

What makes brown sugar so expensive

What Sugar Blog breaks explains that there are different types of brown sugar that range from unrefined to refined. In this area alone, shoppers can sometimes find monumental price differences (unrefined costs between three and 12 times more) because of where each small batch is coming from – countries such as Colombia, Brazil, and Mauritius. According to several users on Quora, the process of making brown sugar also gives it a higher price tag. Healthline reports that the process for making either brown sugar or white sugar is fairly similar with the exception of one key difference - molasses. 

During the extraction process, the sweet nectar from either the sugarcane or sugar beet plant undergoes purification and heating to form a secondary (and thicker) liquid substance known as molasses. After a quick separation process, white sugar goes on to live its life molasses free, while refined brown sugar has it added back (giving it color and altering the flavor). Unrefined brown sugar, by contrast, isn't as processed and thus keeps some of its molasses. So, does molasses make it more expensive? There's reason to believe it might. The Spruce Eats asserts that initially, molasses was less expensive than refined sugar, but nowadays the cost is roughly double that of refined sugar.