Michigan Sugar Company was formed in 1906 when six independent, single factory, sugarbeet companies merged. In 2002, our Company became a cooperative, owned by over 1,000 sugarbeet growers. On October 1, 2004, the Monitor Sugarbeet Growers and Monitor Sugar's Bay City factory joined our Cooperative. Beginning with the 2004 crop, our single, grower-owned cooperative processed all sugar produced in the State of Michigan.
Today, we have four operating factories (Bay City, Caro, Croswell, and Sebewaing) and three warehouse terminals located in Michigan and Ohio, employing 940 year-round employees and 1,450 seasonal. It generates over one-half billion dollars in direct economic activity annually in the local communities in which it operates. Michigan Sugar Company is the third largest beet sugar processor in the United States, annually producing nearly one billion pounds of sugar under the Pioneer and Big Chief brand names - "Locally Grown. Locally Owned."
As a grower-owned sugar cooperative, our mission is to maximize shareholder value by efficiently producing quality products, from seed to shelf, while enhancing our employees' future.
The death of the lumbering industry in the late 1800s helped bring about the birth of the sugarbeet industry to the Saginaw Valley's farming and food-processing economies.
After loggers had cleared the pine forests in the area, the land was virtually unusable due to the massive expanse of tree stumps left behind. State and local leaders were searching for a substitute for the jobs and money generated by now-departed lumber barons.
Sugarbeets are an important cash crop for Michigan farmers and also provide jobs and contribute to the local economy. Sugarbeets are grown in the Saginaw Valley and Thumb of Michigan. Michigan Sugar Company is a grower-owned cooperative, meaning that the growers own the company. The Cooperative has over 1,000 grower-shareholders who grow sugarbeets on 150,000 acres of land each year. The sugarbeets are then processed into sugar at factories located in Bay City, Sebewaing, Caro and Croswell.
PRODUCING BEET SUGAR
Processing a sugarbeet into pure granulated Pioneer and Big Chief brand sugar requires a lot of equipment and energy as well as the skill of our employees. The process consists of a series of physical and chemical separations with the object being to preserve the natural sugar and remove all other materials. Following is a brief description of the unit operations, their purpose and how they relate to each other, as the sugarbeet becomes sugar.