Bakers need a repertoire of instruments and ingredients to properly prepare their goodies. Those serious about the craft tend to reach for the more expensive cookware and ingredients to ensure they and their customers are getting the best. It's a good idea in theory, but there's one little ingredient you don't need to spend more money on.
Though the bags can differ greatly in prices, especially in organic grocery stores, the one ingredient you can buy cheap is:
In an article from Kitchn, Tami Weiser discusses how at the end of the day, the ingredient has the same quality no matter the price. She explained how when it comes to ingredients like flour, you know you'll be getting a different product based on price and label. Some flours are gluten-free, all-purpose, or contain more protein than their counterparts. Sugar, on the other hand, is the same no matter what.
She admitted that it's hard to tell if specialty brands have a major difference between them, mainly because most of them come from outside the United States, countries which allow impurities in their sugar. "But when it comes to our standard sugars (granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugar, and confectioners sugar), you can save money without worrying about brand-to-brand differences," she writes.
When it comes to different brands of generic sugar, you may notice slight differences in grain size, but the end result is basically the same.
Of course, as with anything on the market, manufacturers are scrambling to compete with each other. There have been studies delving into the inflated prices of sugar around the world; in 2013, a paper published revealed that the cost of sugar for the 2012-2013 year in Europe. The spike in sugar cost raised alarm for some researchers who chose to delve into the subject more. They found that "both the supply side (concentrated markets) and the demand side (lack of procurement power) of the market offer explanations for the (movements in the) European sugar prices for industrial bulk users." The report wrote that, altogether, "the supply deficit, concentrated national markets and lack of options for switching to competitors result in the selling power possessed by European sugar producers. This explains why the European sugar price is higher than the world price and why the European sugar price has increased sharply in recent years."
So, there are a few reasons why sugar prices vary, and why certain brands are so much more expensive. But when you see bags of sugar with higher costs, just know you don't need to grab them. You're getting the same quality regardless of which brand you reach for.