United Sugars Corp. on Feb. 2 commenced its first shipment of refined beet sugar from its new bulk sugar transfer facility about 45 miles west of Chicago, the company said on Feb. 21.

The $40 million facility includes a 134-foot high and 183-foot wide bulk storage dome that holds 60,000 tonnes (1.3 million cwts) of sugar, the largest free-standing sugar storage facility in the United States. It is able to transfer about twice its storage capacity annually. In addition to the 26,000-square-foot dome, the 20-acre facility includes a 17,000-square-foot transfer facility and about a mile of railroad track.

United Sugars Sugar Dome

“Customer requirements change frequently, and this facility will allow us to quickly and easily respond to their needs and avoid interruptions in supply,” said Dirk Swart, executive vice-president, industrial sales and marketing at United Sugars. Customer benefits include local access and efficient distribution, proximity to food and beverage manufacturing facilities and flexibility, the company said.

The facility was built and financed by the American Crystal Sugar Co. and will be operated by United Sugars, which also manages sales and distribution in the area.

United Sugars brings refined beet sugar by train from plants in the Red River Valley during the prime processing period from November through January for distribution from March forward in the Chicago and Midwest region.

United Sugars originally had hoped to begin shipments from the facility by the end of 2016. Customer audits were conducted during January.