Michigan Sugar beet co-op scoops up cane refiner

(Monsanto.com)

Miami | Reuters — Beet sugar co-operative Michigan Sugar has agreed to buy the assets of AmCane Sugar, one of the cane companies hardest hit by a trade deal with Mexico limiting U.S. imports of the sweetener, according to a company official and statement.

The sale comes as AmCane is embroiled in litigation in the Court of International Trade over a 2014 trade deal signed by the U.S. and Mexico, which sets prices and a quota for the sweetener.

Cane refiners including Louis Dreyfus Commodities’ Imperial Sugar have said the trade deal threatens their supplies of raw sugar as well as their margins. On Feb. 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it was mulling options as concerns mount over raw supplies.

AmCane CEO David Rosenzweig declined to comment on the reason for the sale or terms of the deal. He will be staying on for two years at Michigan Sugar during the transition, he told Reuters at the International Sweetener Colloquium in Miami.

For Michigan Sugar, the country’s third-largest beet sugar producer, the acquisition of AmCane’s refinery in Taylor, Michigan, and packaging facility in Toledo, Ohio, marks an expansion into specialty cane sugar products at a time when beet farmers are facing heightened scrutiny over ingredients made of genetically modified crops.

The co-operative sources beets from over 1,000 farmers in Michigan and southwestern Ontario and operates a piling station at Dover Centre, about 90 km northeast of Windsor.

The acquisition is expected to boost Michigan Sugar’s sales volumes by nearly 15 per cent and lift revenue by more than US$60 million, the statement said.

“Adding cane sugar products to our product lineup will allow us to better serve our customers while maintaining a keen focus on value-enhanced products,” Mark Flegenheimer, CEO of Michigan Sugar, said in the company statement.

AmCane makes liquid sugar and other products including evaporated cane juice.

Chris Prentice reports on soft commodities and biofuels for Reuters, based in New York.

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