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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/101

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GROWTH OF THE BEET-SUGAR INDUSTRY.

these new conditions the production of beet-sugar in continental Europe has doubled in the last decade; and, after the home populations are supplied, the surplus is exported to Great Britain and the United States, reducing the price of sugar in the markets of the world more than fifty per cent.

The sugar-refineries of this country use the beet-and cane-sugar indiscriminately in the manufacture of the block sugar of commerce, and the family grocer sells the imported refined beet-sugar at a price from twenty-five to fifty per cent above the price of cane-sugar.

Before our late war, Louisiana produced more sugar than Germany; and although the beet-sugar industry in the latter country was greatly stimulated by the high prices of sugar prevailing, incident to the entire destruction of the cane-sugar industry of the United States, yet as late as 1875 the empire produced only twenty-five hundred tons, while for the year 1888 a production of one million three hundred thousand tons of sugar and saccharine resultants is recorded.

If the increasing production of continental sugar continues in the same ratio as in the past, it needs no prophet to foretell the future of the cane-sugar colonies. Even now the English market can not afford to take colonial cane-sugar, although it is admitted free of duty. The English refining factories, which represent an investment of fifteen or twenty millions of dollars, and have hitherto supported a large population of wage-earners, are being closed, from the competition with continental sugar.

These questions are attracting the attention of all the governments of Europe; and while a number of members of the British Parliament tried to find compensation for the losses of the cane-sugar colonies, and the destruction of the British sugar-refineries, in the circumstance that the consumers of sugar in Great Britain saved fifty-five millions of dollars annually, in the reduced cost of an article of prime necessity of which the consumption had increased thirty-three per cent within a few years; yet an international congress was determined upon, for the purpose of doing away, if possible, with all bounties on sugar manufacture.

This grave question was presented, in all its bearings, to the Parliaments, Finance Ministers, Boards of Trade, and Chambers of Commerce of many of the Continental Governments, but at the gathering in London the proposition met with little or no favor.

After the adjournment of the congress the German Empire announced a new excise duty, which took effect last August, involving all the principles of the old duties, and increased the "material and consumption" tax on beets to three cents per pound on sugar as against two and a half cents per pound previously,