L.A. schools switch to sugar to sweeten flavored milk

by Ron Sterk
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EL MONTE, CALIF. — Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. (HC&S), Pu’unene, Maui, Hawaii, will supply natural sugar cane sweetener to Driftwood Dairy, El Monte, Calif., to use in its flavored milk sold to Southern California public schools, including the Los Angeles district, beginning this fall, both companies said.

Driftwood Dairy said it will switch from high-fructose corn syrup to Maui Brand Natural Evaporated Cane Juice (E.C.J.) to sweeten its chocolate, strawberry, root beer and orange crème flavored milks as part of its "Totally Healthy" initiative. It is the first dairy in California to remove HFCS from all of its flavored milk.

The switch has enabled Driftwood Dairy to lower the caloric and sugar content of its chocolate flavored milk by 20 calories and 5 grams, resulting in 120 calories and 20 grams of sugar in each 8-oz serving, the company said.

"Securing this key West coast customer for Maui Brand is evidence of HC&S’s diversification into specialty sugars is both timely and on target," said Frank E. Kiger, HC&S general manager. E.C.J. is a natural, unrefined sugar, produced through a single crystallization of sugar cane juice, HC&S said.

The cane sweetener will be provided to Driftwood Dairy through a contract with Sweetener Products, Inc., which has processing facilities in Northern and Southern California, HC&S said.

"Driftwood Dairy follows an impressive list of well-known Hawaii food and beverage manufacturers — including Hawaiian Sun, Ito En (Aloha Maid) and Island Maid — which had previously switched from HFCS to Maui Brand, responding to consumer demand for natural sweeteners for their beverages and other food products," Mr. Kiger said. "They’ve found value in knowing that Maui Brand contains no artificial additives or preservatives, is grown without insecticides and is certified kosher."

HC&S, a division of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., is the largest sugar company in Hawaii, producing 80% of the state’s raw sugar. Its parent company, Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., Honolulu, is engaged in transportation and logistics, real estate and agribusiness.

Driftwood Dairy is one of the largest independent dairy processors in the Western United States and the largest milk provider to southern California school, supplying milk and juices to about 100 districts with more than one million students.

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