Imperial Sugar targets swift return to operations

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sugar beet Sugar Imperial sugar

Refined sugar giant Imperial Sugar has announced a return to
operations at its Gramercy, Louisiana plant following the
devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

The company, which distributes to food manufacturers, retail grocers and foodservice distributors through the 'Imperial', 'Dixie Crystals' and 'Holly' brands, has commenced limited shipping on a priority basis, though this remains limited due to problems with the availability of transportation equipment and fuel.

Imperial's executive vice president Paul Durlacher said that he was thankful that "fortunately most of our associates fared relatively well and therefore we have been able to staff key positions on all shifts"​.

The refinery, located only 20 miles northwest of New Orleans on the Mississippi river, shut down on 27 August as forecasts for the region became more severe. The company now plans on carrying out a full damage assessment of the refinery, and will be hoping that the region's infrastructure, already under tremendous pressure along with energy supplies, can be restored as soon as possible in order for normal service to resume.

Indeed, a quick return to normal operations would certainly be welcomed by Imperial, which announced disappointing financial results last month with a net loss of $4.5 million for the current quarter. This financial performance, which contrasts with a reported net income of $4.3 million during the third quarter of 2004, has been attributed to lower sales prices against higher energy, freight and manufacturing costs.

Imperial also revealed lower domestic sales prices, reflecting the effects of increased competitive pressures resulting from a surplus of sugar on the market.

Observers will also be interested to see how the firm's recent 450 million divestment of its Holly Sugar Corporation subsidiary will impact performance. Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative has purchased Holly Sugar, which represents approximately 15 percent of Imperials production capacity. Imperial will however retain the brand.

Related topics Commodities Cocoa

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