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Cooperative Finishes Harvest Campaign

BELLE GLADE, Fla., March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Although cloudy skies during the grand growth period for sugarcane and last year's drought conditions impacted overall cane growth, Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative produced its 7 th largest crop in its 51 year history.

The 141 day crop commenced on Oct. 23, 2012 with liquidation completed on March 15, 2013. The 46 grower-members of the Cooperative produced 3,082,397 tons of sugarcane grown on 68,373 acres of land primarily in Palm Beach County yielding 362,514 short tons raw value (STRV) sugar and 16.7 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. This compares to last year's slightly higher production of 3,143,327 tons of sugarcane grown on 68,456 acres of land yielding 374,266 STRV sugar. Sugar yields were at 11.51% or 5.19 tons of recoverable sugar per acre—10,380 pounds per acre.

"The excellent performance in the field and factory led to increased efficiencies in face of rising input costs and lower prices for our raw sugar," said President and CEO Antonio L. Contreras, Jr. "For example, fuel prices are up 30% from a year ago while sugar prices have fallen 50% due to the oversupply in the world and domestic markets. This means extremely tight operating margins and less farm gate revenue for our growers." 

He went on to say, "By being vertically integrated our growers are provided a level of certainty by providing an end-use product. Even at the refining level, margins are thin. However, being part of the ASR Group, with a global footprint, it helps our Florida operation continue to be sustainable and provides good paying jobs in our communities." Contreras said, "We applaud the teamwork of our growers, our agricultural and processing personnel who are able to achieve great results despite obstacles in the marketplace."

The Cooperative consists of 46 grower-owners and employs 550 people during the harvest season. The primary functions of the Cooperative are the harvesting, transporting and processing of sugarcane and the sale of raw sugar and molasses. In conjunction with Florida Crystals Corp. the Cooperative co-owns ASR Group, the world's largest cane sugar refining company with global production capacity of 6 million tons of refined sugar annually. Its products are marketed through it family of brands including Domino®, C&H®, Redpath®, Tate & Lyle®, Sidul® and Sores®.

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