Sugar was first introduced to England in the 12th century. At that time, sugar was imported from exotic locations like the Middle East and Asia and was very expensive. Sugar was often grouped with other exotic spices like ginger, cinnamon, and saffron and used to season savoury dishes like meat and vegetables.
The use of sugar in sweet dishes and desserts became common much later, around the 16th and 17th centuries.
Sugar remained a luxury item for many centuries, as it was labour-intensive to produce and transport. However, by the Middle Ages, sugar had become more widely available in Europe and was consumed by people of all social classes. The availability of sugar increased even further with the rise of European colonial empires in the 16th and 17th centuries, which established sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Today, sugar is one of the world’s most widely produced and consumed commodities, with global production topping 175 million metric tons in 2019.