This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Sugar Producer magazine.

As defined in the dictionary, an association is a group of people united in an organization because of their common interests. Associations exist because of their strength in numbers.

In essence, the whole is stronger than the individual. I fully believe that is true of the sugar industry and our members at the Sugar Association. Our common mission is to share our knowledge of sugar to add balance to the public conversation around sugar, with the goal of increased consumer understanding and confidence in the role that sugar plays in a nutritious, balanced, and enjoyable diet. As we work toward achieving those goals, we are up against the same challenges; therefore, our voice and efforts are only amplified when we come together.

Demonstrating Our Shared Purpose

This mindset was perfectly on display last fall as the sugar industry celebrated our first ever National Real Sugar Day together on October 14. The Sugar Association’s 13 members joined forces to collectively share our story: that Real Sugar comes from plants.

Through traditional media, digital communications, and on-the-ground events, the efforts yielded more than 3.5 million impressions with tens of thousands of engagements with our digital content. Our baking photo contest had more than 1,000 submissions, widening the net of those celebrating to those outside the industry. These posts, likes, clicks, and comments didn’t appear out of thin air; rather we can all pat ourselves on the back for getting the word out and encouraging industry employees and farmers to share what it means to be a part of this community.

When you go beyond these numbers, National Real Sugar Day brought to light real stories that highlight the pride we all share to be a part of this industry:

It takes active engagement across the industry to make all of this happen. The Sugar Association’s Communications Committee played a key role in planning the activities leading up to and on the day of October 14. This group of professionals keeps us focused on the needs of the industry and provides insights into how the association can help everyone achieve our shared goals. This model is really at the heart of how we operate and is the reason we are able to have an impact.

Looking Ahead to 2023

The 2022 National Real Sugar Day was just the first celebration of its kind, and we are already looking ahead to the years to come. Each year, we hope to continue to grow enthusiasm and, most importantly, use this day as an opportunity to showcase sugar and share our knowledge with those who may not be as familiar with it. On National Real sugar Day – and every other day – we will continue to work together to grow awareness with consumers that Real Sugar is grown from sugar beet and sugar cane plants. And the best way to do that is to share the real stories behind this true farm-to-table ingredient.

I advise you to add a reminder to your calendar now for October 14 for the 2023 National Real Sugar Day now and start making plans to add your voice to our important story.

By The Numbers

About the Author

Courtney Gaine, Ph.D., R.D., is the President and CEO for the Sugar Association in Washington, D.C. Prior to this appointment in January 2016, Dr. Gaine served as the Vice President of Scientific Affairs at the association. Dr. Gaine previously served as senior science program manager at the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI North America), a public, nonprofit scientific foundation that advances the understanding and application of science related to the nutritional quality and safety of the food supply. Prior to ILSI, Dr. Gaine held positions of project director, nutrition and wellness, at the nonprofit organization Convergence and science manager at FoodMinds, a public relations firm. She began her career in academia as an assistant professor at East Carolina University. A native Washingtonian, Dr. Gaine obtained her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences and biochemistry and bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Connecticut, where she was also a co-captain of the UConn women’s basketball team.

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