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The impact of sugar cane on the logistics

Imports of Mexican Coca-Cola benefit the truck industry.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

Most of the soft drink industry uses some type of artificial sugar for ingredients. Recent years have seen a push by consumers to persuade these manufacturers to move away from high-fructose corn syrup. However, a new trend has emerged from Mexico that has a direct impact on the U.S. trucking industry, and specifically, the logistics management companies located in Texas.

Cane sugar demand
Consumers in the U.S. will find different ingredients in their soft drinks than Mexican consumers will find. This is because Coca-Cola utilizes cane sugar in their Mexican products. According to Imperial Sugar, this type of sucrose is naturally occurring and can be found in just about every vegetable and fruit. As a result, this crop is one of the world's most abundant.

There are even two distinctions of this type of crop. According to Livestrong, evaporated cane sugar is less processed than its more refined counterpart. The substance known as brown sugar has grown in popularity and is an example of the refining process.

The trucking industry is involved because more Americans want to consume soft drinks that place a greater emphasis on natural ingredients. Look no further than one Silicon Valley startup that imported Mexican Coca-Cola.

According to the New York Times, "Mexican Coke is the new black." Meaning, subcultures and some aspects of popular mindsets have come to place a bigger emphasis on the product's consumption. Those who consume the drink on a regular basis notice the differences from the artificial version. The publication said the pure sugar delivers a noticeable taste difference that also provides lots of caffeine.

"The pure sugar cane delivers a noticeable taste difference that also provides lots of caffeine."

"One of the things that is really important to us is having all high-quality ingredients to our food, and we want that in our beverages as well," Tyler Brown, beverage manager at Los Angeles Umami Restaurant Group, told The New York Times in an interview.

The drink is particularly successful in areas closer to the border.

How trucking helps
Logistics companies already see an influx of exports from Mexico, and as a result, Texas firms in particular have been experiencing expanded business opportunities. It is an increase in short- and long-haul operations that has led to the trucking industry experiencing some of the fastest growth among medium-sized businesses, according to a recent report from Sageworks.

The Mexican product used to enter the U.S. in unauthorized ways, typically because of independent dealers. It was not until 2005 that Coca-Cola began shipping the product across the border. Texas was the go-to state for these imports.

Further sugar cane use
Coca-Cola also recently announced further use of sugar cane. In early June 2015, the company announced at the World Expo – Milan food conference that it has developed a new soda bottle made entirely from plant materials. Specifically, sugarcane is the main ingredient.

"Our vision was to maximize game-changing technology, using responsibly sourced plant-based materials to create the globe's first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials," Nancy Quan, global research and development officer for the company, said in a statement.

"Sugar cane now provides 100 percent of the plastic."

According to Time Magazine, the bottle inspiration can be traced back to 2009, except that version was 30 percent plant-plastic. Sugar cane now provides 100 percent of the plastic. Coca-Cola is no doubt utilizing trucking companies to first transport the harvested plants to bottle manufacturing sites, and then delivering those bottles to stores, restaurants and anywhere else that sells the beverage. In fact, the company operates a distribution center in Dallas. The short distance from the border reduces costs, as drivers do not have to travel very far.

Logistics and truck drivers help many companies produce new products and distribute them. One of those products, Mexican Coca-Cola, has developed an underground following that would not be possible if not for legal imports in 2005