Florida Crystals Corporation and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, two family-owned sugarcane farmers and millers, came together more than 20 years ago to form a strategic partnership to begin large-scale refining of their raw sugar. The collaboration laid the groundwork for what would quickly become the world's most successful and innovative cane sugar company: ASR Group.
Florida Crystals Corporation was founded by the Fanjul family in South Florida, in the United States in 1960 as a sugarcane farming and milling company. Its first harvest of 4,000 acres in Palm Beach County yielded 10,000 tons of raw sugar. The family has a long tradition in sugarcane, dating back to 1850 in Cuba, and they understood the key to success meant expanding their land holdings in order to secure a supply of sugarcane for their mills. Today, the company farms more than 190,000 acres in Florida where it owns two sugar mills, a sugar refinery, a packaging and distribution center and a rice mill.
Florida Crystals’ early commitment to sustainability led it to pioneer organic sugarcane farming in the United States, and it continues to be the only producer of certified organic sugar 100 percent made in the USA. Florida Crystals has also been a forerunner in the renewable energy sector. In Florida, it also owns and operates North America's largest biomass power plant, which produces clean, renewable energy from sugarcane fiber, or bagasse, that powers its sugar operations and provides green electricity to the municipal power grid. In its most recent harvest, Florida Crystals processed 6.8 million tons of sugarcane on 150,000 acres, yielding 730,00 tons of sugar (STRV) and 39.5 million gallons of blackstrap molasses.
In a parallel story, in 1960, less than 10 miles away, another group of family farmers were joining together to begin constructing a sugarcane mill in Florida. Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida was chartered and its farmers who had been growing fresh vegetables for generations 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 44 small-to-medium size sugarcane farmers in South Florida. The grower-owners are the backbone of the Cooperative, providing the sugarcane supply that is the lifeblood of the organization. During the last harvest season, the Cooperative processed nearly 4 million tons of sugarcane grown on 70,000 acres, yielding 430,000 tons of raw sugar and 23 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.
Florida Crystals and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative together account for 60 percent of the sugarcane industry in Florida, America's largest sugarcane-producing state.