U.S. Sugar is one of America’s premier privately held agribusiness companies.
With state-of-the-art technology for both sugar manufacturing and citrus processing, U.S. Sugar practices the most efficient and progressive farming techniques available in the world. Vertical integration of our farming, processing and packaging operations makes U.S. Sugar competitive while meeting the highest standards for worker safety, food quality and environmental protection. With its headquarters in Clewiston, Florida, the Company farms over 160,000 acres in Hendry, Glades, and Palm Beach counties and operates a state-of-the-art citrus nursery on 80 acres in Gilchrist County. U.S. Sugar has approximately 1700 employees.
U.S. Sugar also owns an independent short line railroad, the South Central Florida Express which connects the agricultural communities around Lake Okeechobee with mainline railroads.
Dependent upon weather, growing conditions and federal market allocations, U.S. Sugar produces approximately 700,000 tons of cane sugar a year, providing up to 10% of the sugar produced in America. The annual sugarcane harvest season begins in October and runs through late April. Since October 2007, the Company’s entire sugarcane crop is ground at U.S. Sugar’s newly consolidated and automated Clewiston Sugar Factory. The newly enlarged mill, with a capacity of 38,000-42,000 tons per day, is now the world’s largest fully integrated cane sugar milling and refining operation.
With an onslaught of foreign trade agreements in the pipeline, U.S. Sugar made the decision to modernize and streamline its sugar operations to increase its ability to compete globally. In November 2004, the Company announced plans for a single, modern and highly automated sugar processing operation that would be constructed in a three-year, three-phase project that was completed in October 2007.
Investing in new technology was critical to bringing our costs into line with foreign sugar producers who do not have to provide the level of wages and benefits nor comply with a host of environmental and safety regulations like the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, OSHA and others that add to the cost of doing business. .
The Clewiston Refinery, adjacent to the Clewiston Mill, is the newest cane sugar refinery in the U.S. and the first fully integrated cane sugar refinery in the country. After recent expansions, the refinery has the capacity to refine all the Company’s raw sugar production—and in fact has refined imported raw sugar the past several years to support its record-breaking pace. Refining operations include the production and packaging of a full spectrum of refined sugar products—from small retail bags to railcars of bulk sugar. A liquid sugar production line began full operations in 2003 -- enabling the Refinery to better meet its customers’ sugar needs. United Sugars, owned in partnership with Minnesota and North Dakota beet sugar cooperatives, markets our refined sugar products.
Our citrus company, Southern Gardens Citrus, processes oranges from its own groves as well as from contracted, independent groves. The company farms 16,500 net acres of groves containing 1.8 million trees, which provide high quality fruit to the Southern Gardens Citrus Processing Plant. The juice plant, which opened in 1994, has already been expanded several times and can process up to 20 million boxes of oranges a season, producing over 100 million gallons of orange juice. The plant has set many world records in extractor productivity since its opening in 1994. Southern Gardens is one of the largest bulk suppliers of premium, not-from-concentrate (NFC) orange juice to branded companies as well as the private label grocery trade in the United States.
Long considered an industry leader in environmental issues, U.S. Sugar has established many on-farm soil and water management techniques that have become models for the industry. Such practices have led to an average 54% reduction in phosphorous, easily surpassing the Everglades Forever Act’s 25% requirements. In addition, U.S. Sugar runs its raw sugar factory and Clewiston refinery on bagasse, the residual cane fiber from the milling process, making them energy self-sufficient. Sugarcane is a clean, green and renewable energy source.
As farmers and stewards of the land, U.S. Sugar is committed to Everglades restoration and to continuing efforts to improve the environmental sensitivity of its farming operations.