In 1998, two Florida sugar companies – Florida Crystals Corporation and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida — formed a strategic partnership to begin large-scale refining of their raw sugar. The collaboration laid the groundwork for what would become the world’s most successful and innovative cane sugar company: ASR Group.
Florida Crystals Corporation was founded by the Fanjul family in 1960 as a sugarcane farming and milling company in Palm Beach County, Florida. Its first harvest of 4,000 acres yielded 10,000 tons of raw sugar. Coming from a family that had been producing sugar since 1850, the company’s leaders understood the key to success meant expanding its acreage in order to secure a supply of sugarcane to their mills. Today, the company owns 155,000 acres, two sugar mills, a sugar refinery, a packaging and distribution center and a rice mill in Florida. The company pioneered organic sugar farming in the country and continues to be the only producer of certified organic sugar 100 percent made in the USA. Its natural and organic products are marketed through its Florida Crystals® sugar brand. Florida Crystals has also been a forerunner in the renewable energy sector. It owns and operates North America’s largest biomass power plant, which produces clean, renewable energy that powers its sugar operations and tens of thousands of homes. In its most recent harvest, Florida Crystals processed 5.7 million tons of sugarcane on 152,000 acres, yielding 676,000 tons of raw sugar and 30 million gallons of blackstrap molasses.
In 1960, less than 10 miles away, another group of family farmers were joining together to begin constructing a sugar mill in Belle Glade, Florida. Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida was chartered and its farmers began planting sugarcane, many for the first time. The Cooperative’s first harvest of 22,000 acres resulted in 77,600 tons of raw sugar. Today, the Cooperative is comprised of 46 small-to-medium size sugarcane farmers in South Florida. The grower-owners are the backbone of the Cooperative, providing the cane supply that is the lifeblood of the organization. During the last harvest season, the Cooperative processed 3 million tons of sugarcane grown on 68,000 acres, yielding 374,000 tons of raw sugar and 18 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. The fiber from the sugarcane stalk, called bagasse, is used as the primary source of fuel saving 31 million gallons of fuel oil annually or enough to power 79,000 homes.
Florida Crystals and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative together account for 60 percent of the raw sugar produced in Florida, America’s largest sugarcane-producing state.