The Department of Justice today filed a civil antitrust action to prevent the United States Sugar Corporation (US Sugar) from acquiring its rival, Imperial Sugar Company (Imperial Sugar). The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleges the transaction would leave an overwhelming majority of refined sugar sales in the Southeast in the hands of just two producers. As a result, American businesses and consumers would pay more for refined sugar, an important input for many foods and beverages.
Strong antitrust enforcement is a critical pillar of the Department of Justice’s commitment to ensuring economic opportunity and fairness for all, said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. We will not hesitate to challenge anti-competitive mergers that would harm American consumers and businesses.
US Sugar and Imperial Sugar are already multi-billion dollar companies looking to further consolidate an already comfortable sugar industry. Their merger would eliminate aggressive competition in the supply of refined sugar that results in lower prices, better quality and more reliable service, said Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. The deal dramatically reduces competition at a time when challenges in the global supply chain already threaten stable access to important commodities and goods. The department’s lawsuit aims to preserve strong competition between US Sugar and Imperial Sugar and to protect the resilience of the US sugar supply.
According to the department’s complaint, US Sugar operates a large sugar refinery in Florida and sells all of its refined sugar through the United Sugars Corporation (United Sugars), a marketing cooperative owned by US Sugar and three other refined sugar producers. . Imperial Sugar operates its own sugar refinery in Georgia and sells its refined sugar directly to customers. American Sugar Refining, better known by its brand name Domino, is the other producer providing a significant portion of refined sugar in the Southeastern United States. The complaint further alleges that United Sugars and Imperial Sugar compete to supply refined sugar to southeast customers in states stretching from Mississippi to Delaware. This competition has resulted in lower prices, better quality products and more reliable service for customers across the region.
If US Sugar were allowed to acquire Imperial Sugar, the production of Imperials would be integrated into the United Sugars cooperative, leaving two major sugar producers in the region. As alleged in the complaint, since transportation costs represent a significant portion of the total price that customers pay for refined sugar, the closest sugar producers tend to be the best competitive options for customers. The complaint alleges that US Sugars’ proposed acquisition of Imperial Sugar will further consolidate an already concentrated refined sugar market. If the deal is cleared, United Sugars and Domino would control the vast majority of refined sugar sales in the region, increasing the likelihood that they will coordinate with each other and refrain from competing aggressively.
US Sugar, a Delaware company headquartered in Florida, is the world’s largest vertically integrated cane sugar grinding and refining operation. US Sugar is one of the four member-owners of United Sugars. In 2020, US Sugar received payments of $ 533 million from United Sugars, representing the company’s share of United Sugars’ net sales.
United Sugars, a Minnesota company headquartered in Minnesota, markets and sells all of the refined sugar produced by its four member-owners US Sugar, American Crystal Sugar Company, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative and Wyoming Sugar Company. Its member-owners operate a total of nine sugar refineries located in Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. United Sugars revenue was $ 1.8 billion in 2020.
Imperial Sugar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Louis Dreyfus Company LLC, is a producer of refined sugar in the United States and markets and sells its products independently on its own behalf. Imperial Sugar has a refinery in Savannah, Georgia, and an intermediate sugar transfer and liquefaction facility in Ludlow, Kentucky. Imperial Sugars’ revenue topped $ 700 million in 2020.
Louis Dreyfus Company LLC, a Delaware company headquartered in the Netherlands, is a world leader in sugar trading and merchandising and among the largest cane sugar refiners in the world. In 2020, the company had net sales of more than $ 33 billion.
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