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By Mike Spieker
FARGO, N.D. – American Crystal Sugar Company held their annual shareholders meeting Thursday at the Fargo Holiday Inn. Tom Astrup, president and CEO of American Crystal announced the expansion of the company’s Drayton, N.D factory.
The project is expected to increase the factory’s output by 30% and increase output five to seven percent companywide. American Crystal spent between $20 million and $25 million on the expansion during the summer of 2017. The estimated total of the four-year project is estimated to be around $100 million.
In 2017, American Crystal shareholders produced a record 12 million ton crop on just 400,000 acres – 100,000 less than 10 years ago. With the higher yields, American Crystal is looking to “take advantage of the yield increases” by increasing their processing capacity, says Astrup.
“It probably doesn’t mean there will be more acres of sugarbeets,” said Astrup on the expansion at the Drayton factory. “What is probably means is if yields continue to increase, acres won’t decline as much as they have in the past.”
Of the company’s five plants, Astrup explains why Drayton was selected for the expansion – “It’s economics,” he said. “We have more beets grown in the Drayton factory district than we can process there.” As a result, excess sugarbeets are trucked south to other factories for processing. The Drayton expansion will significantly reduce those freight costs.
Before the expansion, Drayton averaged a 6,900 ton/day capacity. When completed, the factory is expected to be operated at 9,000 ton/day.