A Short History and Production Statistics of the Corn Sweeteners Industry for Railfans
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was developed in the 1950s. Quotas and tariffs imposed on imported sugar in the late 1970s prompted food manufacturers to shift to corn sweeteners.. Coca Cola and Pepsi both switched from sugar to high fructose corn syrup in the 1980s.
The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of natural sweeteners. In 2002, we consumed about 9.3 million tons of refined sugar, and about 12 million tons of corn sweeteners. In 1997, the corn sweetener industry used about 8% of the corn crop (20 million tons) and the fuel ethanol industry used about 13 million tons. These combined demands equal 13% of domestic demand for corn.
There are two grades of high fructose corn syrup. HFCS-42 is 42 percent fructose syrup. Further processing is required to make HFCS-55. Over 90 percent of HFCS-55 is used in the production of beverages (soft drinks). The beverage industry also uses about 40 percent of the HFCS-42. The rest goes to food manufacturers 34 percent, 14 percent to cereal and bakery producers, 9 percent to the dairy industry, and 1 percent to the candy industry.
Between 2002 and 2008 the use of corn sweeteners in soft drinks, cereals and a range of other products dropped 11 percent. A number of companies have stopped using corn syrup in some or all products, including Hunt's ketchup, Sara Lee, Snapple, Gatorade and Starbucks' baked goods. In 2010, eight million tons of corn sweeteners were delivered for use in American food products, while sugar increased to 10 million tons. I'm not sure that all 10 million tons went to food product companies as the total production of sugar in 2011 was 11 million tons and that was for all uses (food processing companies plus home use).
The high fructose corn syrup industry is dominated by five companies, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Tate and Lyle, Cargill, Corn Products Company International (CPC), and American Maize. ADM had 32 percent market share in 1994 followed by Tate & Lyle with 23 percent, Cargill with 19 percent and CPC and American Maize had 9 percent each.
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Up until the mid-1970s, product line offerings were limited to basic corn starches and corn syrups. In 1976, Cargill joined with Miles Laboratories in a joint venture company to produce the new corn sweetener called high fructose corn syrup. Miles decided to leave the business in the late 70s and Cargill proceeded to increase its presence in the high fructose corn syrup industry during the growth years of the 1980s.
Over time Cargill's portfolio continued to expand. In 1990, Cargill entered the worldwide acidulants business with a citric acid production facility, launching the company into the new world of fermentation. Cargill's presence in this area continues to grow, providing new opportunities for development of fermentation-based businesses. Currently, Cargill is involved in joint ventures producing lactic acid, lysine, erythritol and polylactide polymers.
Corn Products International, Inc.
During the 1950s, Corn Products invented cationic starch and merged with Best Foods, Inc., forming Corn Products Company (later renamed CPC International). In 1976, production of invertose high fructose corn syrup began at the Argo plant. Operations grew in the 1980s with new plants and a partnership between the Canada Starch Company and a London, Ontario, corn refiner, forming Casco Inc. Expansion continued into the 1990s, including the establishment of a Mexican joint venture.
On December 31, 1997, Corn Products International, Inc., was spun off from CPC International. Since becoming an independent public company, Corn Products International has acquired majority interest in its Mexican joint venture and controlling interest in its Korea business.
Corn Products International operations now comprise 42 plants in 22 countries with subsidiaries, joint ventures and alliances. In 2002 Corn Products International was the third largest supplier of corn sweeteners.
A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company
From the development of a new corn syrup after World War I to recent advances in fermentation technology, Staley is known for innovation. In the 1970s, Staley led the development and commercialization of high fructose corn syrup. More recently, Staley introduced a crystalline form of fructose and is active in the development of low calorie bulking agents.
Tate & Lyle PLC, the U.K.'s largest sugar maker, acquired Staley in 1988. Staley is now part of Tate & Lyle North America, a group that also includes Domino Sugar, Western Sugar, PM Ag Products and Redpath Sugars in Canada.
In 2002 Staley was the fourth largest supplier of corn sweeteners. The A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company is one of the largest corn refiners in the U.S., with capacity exceeding 600,000 bushels per day. Headquartered in Decatur, IL, the company product line includes sweeteners, starches, ethanol, animal feeds and citric acid. Current annual sales exceed $1 billion, and total employment is approximately 1,500.
Staley turns corn into a variety of sweeteners for the food and beverage industry. The products include high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, and crystalline fructose. These are used in baked goods, confectionery, fruit and vegetable processing, dairy products and as a substrate for fermentation. Staley is one of the leading producers of corn sweeteners and starches in the world. Staley has a share of approximately 20% of US corn sweetener production and manufactures over 350 starch products for the food, building and paper industries. It operates from four major locations, Decatur, IL, Loudon, TN, and two plants in Lafayette, IN, as well as a number of smaller facilities.
The Lafayette Sagamore (north) plant makes about 2 million pounds of corn starch a day; the south plant makes approximately 8 million pounds of corn sweetener daily, mostly the high fructose corn syrup used in Coca-Cola and Pepsi products.
Minnesota Corn Processors
MCP's corn wet milling plant located in Marshall, MN, began producing corn starch and corn syrup on July 25, 1983. It was originally designed to process 36,000 bushels per day. Now the Minnesota refinery annually grinds over 54 million bushels of corn at an average rate of 160,000 bushels per day. On April 24, 1988, MCP produced its first corn alcohol from the newly completed ethanol refinery. In 1995, MCP began to expand the Marshall facility to increase corn syrup production and to add a 42% high fructose corn syrup refinery.
The Columbus, Nebraska, facility became the first "wet mill" corn processing plant in Nebraska in 1991. Originally, the plant produced corn starch, ethanol and feed products until 1994 when MCP expanded the Columbus facility by adding a 42% high fructose corn syrup refinery. The 55% high fructose corn syrup refinery came on-line in January of 1996. The Nebraska facility grinds approximately 200,000 bushels of corn per day.
Swire Coca-Cola, USA has production facilities at Salt Lake City, Utah, and Fruitland, Idaho. Swire Pacific originally acquired The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Salt Lake City in 1978.
Here is a short list of companies and plants (mostly California) that received corn sweeteners in 2002: