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The former Imperial Sugar factory in Sugar Land, Texas
Imperial Sugar offices in Sugar Land
Imperial Sugar Technology Center in Sugar Land
Imperial Sugar is a major U.S.marker sugar producer and marketer based in Sugar Land, Texasmarker with refining operations in Californiamarker, Georgiamarker, and Louisianamarker.

The company has, since its inception, been headquartered in Sugar Land; the city itself is named for the company and the company's crown logo is featured in the city's seal. The company was founded in 1843 by Samuel May Williams and passed through a series of owners until its purchase in 1907 the I. H. Kempner family of Galvestonmarker. The company was later renamed the Imperial Sugar Company, in an effort to emphasize quality. Up until 1988 the company had only one plant, at its original location in Texas, when they purchased the Holly Sugar Corporation—a beet processor headquartered in Colorado Springsmarker. Since that initial acquisition the company has made several more that effectively doubled the corporation's size each time.

On January 17, 2001, the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, attributing its problems to lower sales for refined sugar as well as higher energy costs. Then on August 29, 2001, the company emerged from Chapter 11 and has since turned its focus inward as it downsizes its operations. In 2003, Imperial won the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for their innovative use of web technology to help turn around their business. The company no longer refines sugar at its original plant in Sugar Land (the facility was closed in 2003) but their corporate headquarters are still located in its founding city.

2008 explosion

On 7 February 2008, an explosion -– possibly caused by static electricity igniting fine sugar dust that had become too dry -– at a Port Wentworth, Georgiamarker Imperial Sugar refinery killed 14 people and injured over 40. OSHA had been criticized in a 2006 US Chemical Safety Board report for lack of preparation for such explosions and a safety program which "inadequately addresses dust explosion hazards". [102279]

The plant was originally built as the Dixie Crystals sugar refinery in 1916-1917. It was acquired by Imperial Sugar in 1997. At the time of its purchase, the Port Wentworth refinery was the 2nd largest sugar refining operation in the U.S.As of August 26, 2008 the death toll had risen to 14, with 1 still in critical condition.


Imperial sells sugar under its own brand name as well as Dixie Crystals, Spreckels, Holly, Diamond Crystal, and Wholesome Sweeteners brands.


  1. Bynum, Russ. "At least 8 dead in blast at sugar plant". Seattle Times 9 February 2008. Retrieved on 9 February 2008.
  2. Imperial Sugar Website
Bloomberg News

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