BROWNSVILLE – CSC Sugar began its new packaging and distribution operations at the Port of Brownsville March 22, 2017.
Key to the company’s expansion to Brownsville is the port’s rail infrastructure and cargo capabilities.
“We chose the Port of Brownsville specifically because it provides great access from both Union Pacific and BNSF railroads. It’s excellent rail connectivity. The freight rate to Brownsville is basically the same regardless where you’re coming from, whether it’s from the sugar growing regions in Minnesota or Idaho,” said Paul Farmer, CEO and president of CSC Sugar. “Having the Brownsville Rio Grande International Railway as the local short line is also a key part of the deal,” he added.
In 2014, the port signed a strategic partnership with OmniTRAX to operate BRG and develop the 1,400-acre GEOTRAC Industrial Hub.
“The Port of Brownsville and the GEOTRAC Industrial Hub offer a very unique location for companies like CSC Sugar. Plus, the capabilities of the Brownsville and Rio Grande International Railway will create new opportunities for exporting and importing a variety of products like beet and cane sugar,” said Kevin Shuba, CEO of OmniTRAX.
“This is an important project for the Port of Brownsville because it helps bring greater employment opportunities to our region,” said John Wood, chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District. “It further diversifies our cargo mix, making us less vulnerable to geopolitical influences.”
CSC is one of the largest importers and exporters of refined sugar to and from North America. The company and the port began discussions about the project in late 2015, resulting in the new alignment with a host of integrated service providers.
The Connecticut company leased 242,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space at the port to export beet sugar to Africa. The sugar comes from the West and Mid-West via UP and BNSF railroads. CSC expects to receive up 25 to 30 rail cars weekly. The first rail shipment arrived at the CSC packaging plant March 22. About 500 tons of sugar daily will be packaged in 50 kilogram bags for export. The combined warehouses will accommodate 25,000 packaged tons of stored sugar.
Schaeffer Stevedoring is the selected stevedore. Ocean shipping will be via Handymax type ships with the first vessel expected to arrive in May.
CSC has already hired 33 local employees to fill all available positions, including warehousemen, forklift drivers and packaging equipment operators.