U.S. Sugar is tangy and sweet. The company is a top US cane sugar maker and citrus grower. It produces up to 700,000 tons of sugar a year, nearly 8% of the nation's supply. U.S. Sugar farms about 180,000 acres of sugarcane in South Florida; it's sold to baked-goods, ice-cream, and other food manufacturers, as well as to food retailers. The company also makes citrus molasses, used by distillers and as a feed supplement for cattle. Its subsidiary Southern Gardens Citrus (SGC) is one of the largest suppliers of not-from-concentrate orange juice in the US. SGC farms 16,500 acres of orange groves, producing more than 100 million gallons of orange juice annually. U.S Sugar was formed in 1931.
U.S. Sugar farms about 180,000 acres in Florida's Hendry, Glades, and Palm Beach counties. The company's sugar factory in Clewiston, Florida is among the most technology advanced and fully integrated cane sugar manufacturing and refining plants in the world, with a daily capacity of 38,000 tons per day.
In addition to its agricultural activities, the company owns and operates a short railroad line, the South Central Florida Express, which consists of 156 miles of track and 14 locomotives, and railcars. The railroad transports the company's sugar cane and and other products. It also transports goods for the lumber, paper, and citrus industries.
U.S. Sugar sells about 75% of its sugar production to other food manufacturers and 25% to grocery stores. Its juice is sold to food giants including Dean Foods and PepsiCo's Tropicana. It also makes private-label brands for major food retailers, including Kroger and Winn-Dixie.
U.S. Sugar sold nearly 27,000 acres of farmland in the Florida Everglades to the State of Florida in October 2010 for $197 million. The deal between the company and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) transferred ownership of 26,800 acres of farmland to SFWMD and gives the district a 10-year option to buy U.S. Sugar's remaining 153,000 acres.
The deal included the sugarcane growing land, sugar mill, refinery, citrus plant, citrus nursery, rock mines, and its railroad, rail cars and all other related equipment. The proposed buyout came at the suggestion of Florida Governor, Charlie Crist. U.S. Sugar will continue to produce sugar on the land for a number of years to fulfill its supply contracts. After that, the company will go out of business.
According to U.S. Sugar, the two-step process provides a greater degree of certainty for its businesses and employees, as well as for the surrounding communities since the company will be able to keep its farming and processing operations viable for a definable future.