A Trip to the Sugar Beet Fields of Michigan

Two members of our purchasing team, Larry Mullet and Taylor Eaton, recently traveled to Michigan to tour the operation of Michigan Sugar.

Michigan Sugar has over 1,000 farmers that are growing sugar beets on over 160,000 acres of land in Central Michigan.

Here is how the day went for Larry and Taylor:

To start the day, they took us to a sugar beet field. They pulled a beet out of the ground to show us what they look like. The inside is a white color and not purple, like so many would associate with a regular beet. They then showed us the machinery used to harvest the crop; a lot of it is guided by computer and GPS with human supervision.

We then went to Michigan Sugar’s manufacturing plant. They have dozens of trucks on the road constantly bringing in beets from the countryside. They dump them into a large lift that shakes the excess dirt off the beet and moves them into the plant factory to be processed. Michigan Sugar has a contract with local farmers to come in and remove the excess dirt (top soil) that collects in a storage area under the lift and take it back to be reused. Behind the lift, they have a large expanse of land that is used to store many piles of beets.

They then guided us through the manufacturing plant and showed us the operation from start to finish. The higher we climbed in the factory, the hotter the air was (I guess hot air really does rise!). The beets were shredded to look like french fries. They then were processed, crystalized, boiled, and dried to give it the white look we're all familiar with. The end product was then packaged with an automated process and palletized by a robotic arm.

A couple things that also stuck out to our team was that Michigan Sugar has developed an app that allows all workers to access vital information on their phone throughout the day. From weather monitoring to disease control, the app helps the Michigan Sugar team get timely information out into the field and to their farmers. It was also impressive to see their focus on quality, and how they their goal is to deliver a consistent quality product to their customers.

Walnut Creek Foods proudly distributes Pioneer and Big Chief Sugar, both brands of Michigan Sugar.

For more information on Michigan Sugar, visit https://www.michigansugar.com/.