CLEWISTON – U.S. Sugar has reached an agreement to purchase a sugar refinery in Georgia.
On Wednesday, March 24, U.S. Sugar announced the company has reached an agreement with Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) to acquire the business and assets of Imperial Sugar Company, a port refiner with operations in Georgia and Kentucky. The acquisition returns Imperial Sugar to all-American ownership.
LDC, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, is a global merchant and processor of agricultural goods with holdings in more than 100 countries.
“We are excited to combine our operations with Imperial Sugar’s port refinery, consumer brands, and sugar processing capabilities,” said Robert H. Buker, Jr., president and CEO of U.S. Sugar. “Together, U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar will provide our customers with a more dependable, secure supply of sugar.”
“Imperial Sugar has a strong heritage as a family-owned business and could not be more proud to become part of the U.S. Sugar family,” said Mike Gorrell, CEO of Imperial Sugar. “This move will increase production and reduce costs at Imperial Sugar’s refinery, generating significant efficiencies that ultimately will benefit our customers.”
Imperial Sugar currently operates a refinery at Port Wentworth in Savannah, Georgia and a sugar transfer and liquification facility in Ludlow, Kentucky. The company primarily sources its raw sugar from Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Imperial Sugar’s various facilities, consumer brands and raw/refined sugar inventories will be included in the purchase.
“U.S. Sugar has a world-class sugar business focused solely in America, including a historic relationship with the Savannah refinery,” said Adrian Isman, Head of the North American Region at LDC. “Imperial Sugar’s port refining capabilities will be an excellent addition for the company, while enabling LDC to concentrate more fully on its global sugar merchandizing business.”
“Two storied American companies with a long history in the domestic sugar business – each with its own unique strengths – now will become a truly great American sugar company that will better serve our people, our customers, and our communities,” said Buker.
Prior to building its own refinery in Clewiston in 1998, U.S. Sugar for decades sold and shipped its raw sugar to the Savannah refinery it is now acquiring.
U.S. Sugar sustainably farms more than 200,000 acres of sugarcane in South Florida and also owns and operates a short-line railroad, the South Central Florida Express, which facilitates shipping sugar products. About 120,000 acres of the U.S. Sugar holdings are in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
Clewiston community leaders are excited about the news.
“Everything seems to be lining up recently for our Clewiston community,” said Clewiston City Commissioner Hillary Hyslope, who is also the executive director of the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce. “For everyone who remembers the Evercane Refinery and shipping sugar to Savannah, it seems these two companies were destined to be together. Acquiring the Imperial Sugar Company and bringing the assets of their port refinery, retail brands and their people into the U.S. Sugar family will help make U.S. Sugar and its farmers even stronger. We are excited to see them investing in America and supporting our local sugarcane farmers by making domestic refining more efficient.”
“Generations of families in our community and our region have made a good living working for U.S. Sugar,” said Clewiston Mayor Kristine Peterson. “Investments such as this new acquisition in Imperial keep their company growing for the future, keeping good jobs in our local community, and providing a great living for future generations of Glades families. Congratulations to U.S. Sugar-- and to the families of Imperial-- who are joining a truly unique American farming business.”
According to U.S. Sugar spokesperson Judy Sanchez, the aquisition will expand sugar production, increase sugar supply secuirty, create logistics and shipping synergies, and improve competition -- all of which will ultimately benefit American customers and farmers.
U.S. Sugar will invest in Imperial’s refinery to expand production and reduce manufacturing costs, she explained. Adding Imperial’s facility will provide U.S. Sugar and its local Florida farmers with enough refining capacity to utilize all the sugarcane they farm. No facility closings are anticipated as a result of this acquisition. Current employees of the Imperial refinery will become U.S. Sugar employees.
Increased production capacity and access to Imperial’s Savannah port refinery will supplement U.S. Sugar’s marketing cooperative’s sugar supply if supplies of domestic beet and cane crops are limited from freezes or hurricanes, Sanchez explained. This will allow U.S. Sugar to better honor customers’ contracts and requirements.
Adding Imperial Sugar’s operations to U.S. Sugar’s marketing cooperative will create substantial distribution synergies and cost savings that will benefit customers, Sanchez continued.
The new combined company will be a better competitor, offering customers a full suite of sugar products – which U.S. Sugar does not supply today – and expanding distribution capabilities throughout the country, Sanchez added. U.S. Sugar will continue to compete across the U.S. with both domestic and imported sugar refiners, along with independent resellers and distributors.
The transaction, expected to close in 2021, is subject to review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. Wells Fargo Securities, LLC is serving as the exclusive financial advisor to U.S. Sugar. The transaction will be financed through committed debt financing provided by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and PGIM Agricultural Finance.
Sanchez said the past harvest season was a good one for U.S. Sugar. “Very favorable weather last season, combined with U.S. Sugar’s continued investments in the latest science and technology along with some of the most innovative farming practices in the world resulted in our farmlands producing our highest tons per acre (TPA) in history at 49 TPA,” she explained. “Along with our dedicated independent family farmers, we also produced a total 9.45 million tons of sugarcane – setting a company record during the 2019-2020 harvest season.”
About U.S. Sugar
U.S. Sugar, a recognized leader in farming and food production, is owned primarily by its employees and charities set up by its founder, Charles Stewart Mott. The Company farms more than 200,000 acres of the most productive farmland in the United States. Its consolidated, automated milling and refining facility in Clewiston, Florida is the world’s largest vertically integrated sugarcane milling and refining operation -- capable of processing 42,000 tons of sugarcane per day and producing about 850,000 tons of refined sugar per year. In addition to sugarcane farming and processing, the company also grows citrus sweet corn, green beans and other fresh produce. For more information, visit www.ussugar.com and follow on Twitter and Facebook.
About Imperial Sugar
Imperial Sugar is one of the oldest processors and marketers of refined sugar in the United States to food manufacturers, retail grocers and foodservice distributors. Imperial Sugar Company produces only the finest sugar and specialty sweetener ingredients for consumers, retailers, foodservice distributors, food manufacturers, private label customers, culinary professionals and specialty markets. For more information about Imperial Sugar, visit www.imperialsugar.com.
Louis Dreyfus Company, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, is a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods with holdings in more than 100 countries. Since 1851, its portfolio has grown to include grains & oilseeds, coffee, cotton, juice, rice, sugar, freight and global markets. Structured as a matrix organization of six geographical regions and eight platforms, Louis Dreyfus Company is active in over 100 countries and employs approximately 17,000 people globally. For more information, visit www.ldc.com and follow the company on Twitter and LinkedIn.