Spokesperson Bill Brady told FoodNavigator-USA.com that Cargill is aiming to be a "one-stop sweetener provider, manufacturing products ranging from corn syrups, sugar and low-calorie sweetening solutions." The new plant cost an estimated $150m to build and will process a million tons of sugar every year, mainly for the US market, he added. The new refinery will add to Cargill's not inconsiderable dealings in the sugar industry. The firm trades raw sugar in Switzerland, China, the US and Holland, and operates two sugar export terminals in Brazil. Cargill also markets sugar for two independent US traders, Brady said. The new complex, which will be built in Louisiana, is a joint venture between Cargill and Sugar Growers and Refiners (SUGAR), an agricultural cooperative in the state. The refinery complex will be officially opened April 15, with commercial production beginning in the first half of 2010, Cargill said. In terms of sweeteners, Cargill is one of the world leaders, and is currently trying to get approval for its stevia sweetener by marketing it for use in 'natural' foods and beverages. Although the ingredient has been approved for some time in countries such as Japan, Brazil and China, it has not as yet achieved food additive status in the US, Canada and Europe. As well as sugars and sweeteners, Cargill deals with agricultural and food products such as grain, chocolate and food ingredients. In January the firm reported net earnings of $954m for its second quarter results, an improvement of 44 percent from last year's takings.