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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
The history of food processing in America has been shaped, in large part, by the history of ADM. It all started back in the mid-1800s, when John W. Daniels and George P. Archer began their careers in the linseed crushing business. They incorporated the Archer Daniels Linseed Company in 1905 and began a century of growth and innovation. In the 1970s, the company turned its attention to corn processing. They purchased a corn wet milling plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and in 1972, their grind was 8,000 bushels per day. In 1976, ADM started making high fructose corn syrup 42. The 70s also saw innovations in the form of high fructose corn syrup 55 and fuel ethanol, both of which ADM helped pioneer. In the 80s, ADM acquired corn processing facilities in Clinton, Iowa, and Montezuma, New York. They also entered the crystalline dextrose market. The 90s saw even more dramatic growth: the company began producing crystalline fructose, sorbitol and most recently maltodextrins. By the end of the decade, ADM's grind was 1.5 million bushels per day. Today, ADM Corn Processing is a global enterprise, with facilities throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America. In the future, ADM will continue to use new technologies to develop new and exciting uses for corn. In 1983, ADM introduced Golden Gluten, an animal feed produced at its corn sweetener plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Initially, the product proved a mixed blessing for the company. Farmers accepted it enthusiastically, however, ADM couldn't ship enough of it to keep up with demand. ADM is based in Decatur, IL and makes about one-fourth of the more than 30 billion pounds of corn sweetener produced in the United States each year.

Cargill, Incorporated
In 2002, Cargill was the second largest supplier of corn sweeteners. Cargill entered the corn wet milling industry in September 1967 with the purchase of an existing plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The corporation saw this as a logical extension of grain origination and processing business. In 1973, Cargill built its first greenfield plant in Dayton, Ohio. Cargill has built additional plants since then including Memphis, Tenn., in 1976; Eddyville, Iowa, in 1985; and Blair, NE, in 1995. Cargill also operates the ProGold corn sweetener plant in Wahpeton, ND. Using the corn wet milling business, the company has expanded and developed a strong international presence. Wet milling plants are located in England, the Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil, Poland and Russia.

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.
In 1906, the Corn Products Refining Company was incorporated through a merger of leading corn refiners and construction of the Argo, Illinois, plant began. By 1919, Corn Products purchased controlling interest in the Canada Starch Company. In the 1920s, Cerelose, Corn Products' crystalline dextrose, was patented and trademarked. Corn Products established South American operations and has operated a multinational business for more than 70 years.

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
Augustus Eugene Staley founded the company in 1898, packing and selling "Cream" cornstarch in Baltimore, Maryland. The company incorporated in 1906, moved to Decatur in 1909, and began corn processing in 1912.

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
Minnesota Corn Processors was established as a farmer owned cooperative in 1980 and began its corn wet milling operations in 1983. ADM's purchase of Minnesota Corn Processors LLC in September 2002 put it ahead of Cargill, which had surpassed it earlier in the year by buying Cerestar.

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.

Cott produces Sam's Choice soft drinks for Wal-Mart stores and Safeway Select at Safeway stores. Cott's St. Louis bottling plant runs its production line anywhere from 16 to 24 hours a day, depending on client demand. That means an average of 32,000 cases of canned soft drinks are processed each day. Cases are loaded on a pallet, 100 cases per pallet, then sent down a conveyor line to the stretch wrapper where they are wrapped and loaded into trucks for shipment. The San Bernardino, CA plant turns out more than 75,000 cans and bottles of soft drink each day. Cott also has a facility in Sikeston, located near the Mississippi River in the Bootheel of Missouri.

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.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, bottling franchises began to consolidate. Coca-Cola, which had relied heavily upon independents until the 1980s, began to purchase large independent bottling groups in 1986 and consolidate them into Coca-Cola Enterprises. In July 1986 Coca-Cola Enterprises acquired Rainwater Coca-Cola Bottling Companies in Texas, and in September they acquired control of the McAllen and Brownsville Coca-Cola Bottling Companies. By the mid-1990s many of the major urban markets for Coke were serviced by Coca-Cola Enterprises, supplemented by other company franchises and independents. In 1996 Pepsi-Cola had company-owned bottling facilities at Conroe, Houston, Mesquite, and San Antonio, and worked through independent bottlers at Abilene, Hallettsville, and Corpus Christi. Dr Pepper merged with the Seven-Up Company in 1986 and soon thereafter moved its manufacturing operations to facilities in St. Louis, although the company's corporate headquarters remained in Dallas.

Here is a short list of companies and plants (mostly California) that received corn sweeteners in 2002:
Coca-Cola Co. bottling plant in San Diego, CA
Coca Cola bottling and distribution center Sacramento, CA
Coca-Cola St. Louis, MO
Coca-Cola production & warehouse Downey, CA
Pepsi Cola Bottling of Fresno, CA
Shasta Beverage La Mirada, CA
Sweetener Products Vernon, CA
Nabisco Brands Oxnard, CA
Ocean Spray Inc Aberdeen, WA
ADM Los Angeles, CA
Coca-Cola Los Angeles, CA
Cargill Lynwood, CA
Seven Up Bottling Co. Modesto, CA
American Maize Products Vernon, CA
Jersey Milk Products Vernon, CA
ITT Continental Baking Pomona, CA
Haagen Dazs ice cream production & warehouse Tulare, CA

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