Michigan Sugar Announces Results From Annual Sugarbeet Slicing Campaign

Michigan Sugar’s 2020-2021 sugarbeet slicing campaign sliced 4,277,351 tons of sugarbeets and produced more than 1.17 billion pounds of sugar at its factories in Bay City, Caro, Crosswell and Sebewaing. After sugarbeets are sliced, the factories in Bay City, Croswell and Sebewaing produce sugar from juice and extract stored during the campaign. Michigan Sugar Company expects to produce an additional 100 million pounds of sugar this year from juice and extract, bringing the total sugar production to more than 1.27 billion pounds.

The company also produced more than 160,000 tons of molasses and 122,000 tons of dry pulp products and sold more than 423,000 tons of pressed pulp as livestock feed.

“This year’s campaign was a huge success,” said Mark Flegenheimer, President and CEO at Michigan Sugar Company. “Our employees did an amazing job getting our sugarbeets processed and our sugar packaged and shipped, despite some unique challenges, especially in terms of staffing, that were perpetuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate and thank our employees for the tremendous effort they put forth over the past seven months.”

The final load of sugarbeets is dumped in the hopper at Michigan Sugar Company’s Caro factory on Saturday, March 13. The Caro factory finished slicing the final beets of the 2020-2021 campaign around 8:45 p.m. that night. (source: Michigan Sugar)

Michigan Sugar Company Executive Vice President Jim Ruhlman praised the cooperative’s nearly 900 grower-owners, who planted and harvested about 162,000 acres of sugarbeets this campaign. “We were blessed this year with a beautiful crop of sugarbeets harvested by our grower-owners, who are among the most talented in the industry,” Ruhlman said. “Mother Nature not only dealt us a good hand during harvest, but she continued smiling on us throughout the campaign with weather very favorable for piling and storing sugarbeets. We had a great year for storage and as a result our factories were slicing quality beets right up to the end of campaign. And we all know that the higher the quality of the beets, the more sugar we can extract.”

Michigan Sugar Company plans to construct a new covered and ventilated sugarbeet storage structure in Croswell. Commonly referred to as a “hoop building,” the $5 million facility will store up to 70,000 tons of sugarbeets beginning with the 2021 crop. Michigan Sugar Company also has a hoop building in Sebewaing that was constructed about six years ago and has proven valuable in helping preserve high-quality sugarbeets for slicing right up until the end of campaigns.

Elsewhere, Michigan Sugar Company is investing $2.5 million to add a third consumer brown sugar packaging line in Bay City that will increase production by 50%. To make room for that line, the company’s industrial brown sugar packaging line is being relocated to the Sebewaing factory, which will begin packaging brown sugar for the first time. In Caro, work will be done to upgrade the site’s electrical distribution system.

Michigan Sugar Company also is purchasing three new pilers at a cost of about $5 million. The pilers will be placed in Bay City, Croswell, and Sebewaing to facilitate more efficient unloading of sugarbeet trucks beginning with the 2021 harvest.

Michigan Sugar Company grower-owners are preparing to plant about 160,000 acres for this year’s crop.