West Palm Beach, Florida
“I believe agricultural producers are at the forefront of feeding society while being leaders in environmental preservation.” -Luis Fernandez
Florida Crystals Corporation’s roots in sugar production date all the way back to Cuba in the mid-19th century. Today, the company with its affiliates is one of the largest in the industry, including sugar and rice farming, milling, refining, packaging and distribution operations.
“It is an exciting time to be in the agricultural sector, because technological advancements are allowing us to increase our yields to produce more food on less land, while farming in the most sustainable manner possible,” says Luis Fernandez, who represents the latest generation of family leadership as Florida Crystals’ executive vice president and chief financial officer. “I believe agricultural producers are at the forefront of feeding society while being leaders in environmental preservation.”
A Key Partner
Based in West Palm Beach, Florida, Florida Crystals co-owns ASR Group, another CoBank customer and the world’s largest cane sugar refiner. Florida Crystals and its related companies are one of the bank’s largest customers, with more than $250 million in revolving and term loan commitments. CoBank also provided a series of interest-rate swaps that helped Florida Crystals lock in attractive long-term rates on recent term loans.
“CoBank has been a key partner since our first major acquisition in 1984, which expanded our operations from farming and milling into refining,” says Fernandez. “It’s a relationship that has grown stronger ever since. CoBank has been instrumental in helping finance the acquisitions of our large-scale refineries.”
A Sweet Supporter
Those acquisitions are a result of a strong and longstanding partnership between Florida Crystals and ASR Group’s co-owner Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, a co-op owned by 46 farmers in south Florida and also financed by CoBank.
Jonathan Logan, executive vice president and manager of CoBank’s Corporate Agribusiness Banking Group, notes that the bank today stands as one of the largest providers of credit to the American sugar industry, with almost $1 billion in total commitments.
“Like other agricultural commodities, sugar is subject to considerable volatility,” Logan says. “Because CoBank has a deep understanding of industry cycles, we are able to stand by our customers in good times and bad. We’re proud to support the American sugar industry and customers like Florida Crystals.”