DEFINITION of Sugar No.11

Sugar No.11 is a futures contract for the physical delivery of raw cane sugar. The Sugar No. 11 futures contract is considered the benchmark for trading raw sugar around the world. Sugar production is concentrated in tropical and subtropical areas, so the performance of Sugar No. 11 can also be used as an economic data point for countries that are heavy producers. Sugar No. 11 is also written as Sugar #11 and Sugar No. 11 futures are sometimes referred to by the commodity code SB.

BREAKING DOWN Sugar No.11

Sugar No. 11 is one way for producers, processors and speculators to trade one of the world’s most popular food additives. There are, of course, other futures that deal with sugar like white sugar futures and containerized white sugar futures. Sugar No. 11 is the unrefined product, similar to a barrel of crude oil. It is also cheaper to transport than the refined sugar products, so processors and refiners usually trade Sugar No. 11, whereas end users of the refined product are the target for the other sugar contracts. This makes Sugar No. 11 the contract that most clearly shows the supply and demand for sugar globally.

Sugar No. 11 Contract Specifications

One Sugar No.11 contract represents 112,000 pounds of raw cane sugar. The quality that is acceptable for delivery is raw centrifugal cane sugar based on 96 degrees average polarization. This just means the sugar has been processed through a centrifuge in a certain way. The contract delivery months are March (H), May (K), July (N) and October (V). The Sugar No.11 contract includes shipping costs to the purchaser's ship at a port inside the country selling the sugar, a type of shipping called free on board. The buyer is responsible for any unloading costs when physical delivery of the actuals takes place. From a trading perspective, the minimum price fluctuation on the Sugar No. 11 contract is 1/100 cent per pound or $11.20 and there is no daily price limit.

Factors Influencing Sugar No. 11

Sugar No. 11 is obviously impacted by global consumption of raw cane sugar and its refined cousins. This means that global inventories of sugar - raw and refined - impact the daily price of the contract. Moreover, as a soft commodity that is grown rather than mined, regional weather and growing conditions can drive price fluctuations in Sugar No. 11 as they will eventually impact the crop yield. There are, however, some less obvious factors that can influence Sugar No. 11. Government actions like regulating sugar content or changing product labeling, particular in large markets like the U.S. can have an effect. Also, the use of raw sugar in the creation of biofuels has created an interesting link between ethanol, corn and Sugar No. 11, suggesting that sugar may one day be considered more of a biofuel commodity than a food commodity.