KANSAS CITY — Two major sugar refineries in the New Orleans area were not operating as of Aug. 30 in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall near the city around midday Aug. 29 as a category 4 storm. The storm was said to be worse in some aspects than Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago.
The ASR Group (Domino) refinery at Chalmette, La., was taken down Friday afternoon, and the Louisiana Sugar Refining, LLC, (LSR) plant at Gramercy, La., was taken down Saturday evening, both as a precaution ahead of the fast-moving storm. As of Monday morning, storm teams still were assessing the situation at both refineries, according to company sources. Indications were both factories were without power. Both refineries are major producers of refined cane sugar sourcing most of their raw sugar supply from Louisiana and Texas, with the ASR plant also utilizing some imported raw sugar. Combined, they produce more than 15% of the total US sugar supply (including carryover, domestic beet and cane sugar and imports).
The LSR plant at Gramercy was said to have been “bruised” from severe wind and some tree damage and was awaiting word from Entergy for an update on power status. All employees were reported to be safe. The plant can produce about 5.5 million lbs of refined sugar daily (about 1 million tons per year).
There was no update from the ASR plant at Chalmette other than that the situation still was being assessed as of Monday morning. The plant can produce 7 million lbs of sugar per day (about 1.3 million tons per year) and directly employs around 400 workers.
There was no word on the impact to the Louisiana sugarcane crop, harvest of which typically begins later in September. As of Aug. 22, the US Department of Agriculture rated the sugarcane crop 65% good to excellent, 30% fair and 5% poor. New crop sugarcane was 25% planted. A new update will be issued Aug. 30, but it may not reflect the impact of Hurricane Ida due to timing.
Last year the crop was rated 81% good to excellent as of Aug. 23 only to tumble to 60% a week later after Hurricane Laura. The crop recovered to 75% good to excellent by the end of September.