Business 'makes life sweet' in the Red River Valley.

    This week is Minnesota Manufacturing Week, and the Crookston Chamber & Visitors Bureau and Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority are collaborating to shine a spotlight on Crookston manufacturers, with public tours and articles detailing the latest developments and innovations at those local manufacturers making up the “Crookston Salutes Manufacturers” promotion.


    Featured here today are American Crystal Sugar and DEE, Inc. Eickhof Columbaria will be featured Thursday (tour from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday), followed by SunOpta.


    Since Crookston manufacturers have an almost constant need for skilled workers, organizers of the tours are extending a special invite to CHS and U of M Crookston students, and human resources professionals will be made available during the tours to discuss job and career opportunities.

Submitted by American Crystal Sugar
    American Crystal is a cooperative where the growers who grow and harvest the sugarbeets also own American Crystal and the factories that make their products. It’s a unique and tightly integrated business model where everyone not only pulls together to unlock the potential of their organization, they also share in the results.


    The agricultural cooperative corporation owned by approximately 2,600 sugarbeet growers in the Minnesota and North Dakota areas of the Red River Valley. Organized in 1973 by sugarbeet growers to acquire the business and assets of the American Crystal Sugar Company, then a publicly held New Jersey corporation in operation since 1899, American Crystal now owns and operates five sugarbeet processing facilities in the Red River Valley, and provides its shareholders (members) with the ability to process their sugarbeets into sugar and agri-products such as molasses; sugarbeet pulp; and by-products of the molasses desugarization process, betaine and concentrated separated by-product (CSB). American Crystal’s Board of Directors establishes sugarbeet acreage planting requirements in the Red River Valley each year based on factory processing capacity, expected crop quality, government regulations and other factors, and American Crystal then processes the sugarbeets from approximately 500,000 acres for the Red River Valley crop. The total authorized acres to be planted are then allocated to each preferred share held by the members.


    American Crystal is engaged primarily in the production of sugar from sugarbeets. Total sugar sales account for approximately 90 percent of American Crystal's consolidated total revenues. United, American Crystal's sugar marketing agent, sells sugar primarily to industrial users such as confectioners, breakfast cereal manufacturers and bakeries which make up approximately 90 percent (by weight) of the sugar sold. The remaining portion is marketed by United to wholesalers and retailers under the "Crystal Sugar" trademark and various private labels for household consumption.


    American Crystal owns all of its factories and the land on which they are located in Crookston, East Grand Forks and Moorhead, Minnesota and Drayton and Hillsboro, North Dakota. Each of the processing factories includes the physical facilities and equipment necessary to store and process sugarbeets into sugar. Their molasses desugarization plants at its East Grand Forks and Hillsboro facilities process molasses to extract additional sugar, and their Moorhead, Hillsboro, Crookston and East Grand Forks facilities package sugar.


    Agri-products such as molasses; sugarbeet pulp; betaine and concentrated separated by-product, by-products of the molasses desugarization process and sugarbeet seed are also produced by American Crystal, and are marketed throughout the Midwest. Sugarbeet pulp is marketed to livestock feed mixers and livestock feeders in the United States and foreign markets. A large proportion of American Crystal's pulp production is exported to Japan and Europe. The market for sugarbeet pulp is affected by the availability and quality of competitive feedstuffs and foreign exchange rates. Sugarbeet molasses is marketed primarily to yeast manufacturers, livestock feed mixers and livestock feeders. Total agri-product sales account for approximately 10 percent of American Crystal's consolidated total revenues. American Crystal operates a sugarbeet seed division, which produces and processes sugarbeet seed for sale to American Crystal's members.


    American Crystal's total annual sugar and agri-product production is influenced by the amount and the quality of sugarbeets grown by its members and non-members, the processing capacity of American Crystal's plants, by its ability to store harvested sugarbeets and by government programs and regulations.


    The period during which American Crystal's plants are in operation to process sugarbeets into sugar and agri-products is referred to as the "campaign." During the campaign, American Crystal's factories operate twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. In the Red River Valley, the campaign typically begins in August and continues until the available supply of sugarbeets has been depleted, which generally occurs in May of the following year. Based on current processing capacity, an average campaign lasts approximately 275 days, assuming normal crop yields.


    American Crystal generally employs approximately 1,400 full-time employees, of which 1,100 are hourly and 300 are salaried. In addition, they employ 900 hourly seasonal workers, 400 during the sugarbeet harvest and 500 during the remainder of the sugarbeet processing campaign. During the sugarbeet harvest, American Crystal also contracts with third party agencies for approximately another 1,300 additional workers.