Melnik sugar factory: an anniversary to celebrate

Flagship of the Czech sugar industry, the Tereos factory celebrates its 150th year

It has been a flagship of the Czech sugar industry for a century and a half! The factory still contributes to spreading the fame of exported Czech sugar throughout the world. Though the sugar production has stopped, it remains active since sugar is still being packaged on site.

A little bit of history

It was the Count of Lobkowicz who first provided the land and Imperial Counsellor Josef Victorin who shaped the factory. A founding committee of local personalities was established in 1869, as were the Articles of Association of the original company “Společná továrna na cukr u Mělníka”. The first processing campaign took place in the autumn of the same year and around 20,000 tons of beets were processed every year.

In 1910, the plant was sold to “Česká společnost pro průmysl cukerní”, a company looking to build a large export-oriented sugar factory that would become its main production site. The company continued its expansion by taking over other sugar factories and soon became the leading sugar producer in Czechoslovakia.

Shortly after, the sugar refinery built on site in 1913 initiated a great development: sales to local and international markets. Icing sugar, lumps, granulated sugar or crushed sugar were added to the wide product range, which enabled the company to extend its position on the market.

Between 1923 and 1928, the sugar plant was thoroughly renovated and its machinery modernized: all original buildings were replaced; a new sugar storage facility was built in order to load boats directly. Melnik then became a modern site and remained so until the beginning of the 1990s.


Harder times for sugar production

For many decades, Melnik remained the largest sugar plant as to its production. However, at the beginning of the 1960’s, the geopolitical context made it hard for the company to work with businesses outside the Iron Curtain. The quality of sugar was deteriorated and the factory had to cope with poor-quality beets until the 1990’s. What Melnik went through illustrates the national sugar industry’s lagging behind.

However the new political and economic context in 1989 made the sugar production change substantially. Privatization started in 1991: the public company “Pražské cukrovary” was transformed into a joint company named “Pražská cukerní společnost”, of which the Melnik sugar factory was the main structure.

In 1996, the site specialized in consumer packaging and exporting sugar. Towards the end, the factory used to process about 3,300 tons of sugar beets every day. The last campaign was held in 2003-2004 after the owners decided to transfer beet processing from Melnik to Dobrovice. More than 43,000 tons of sugar were then produced.


Tereos successfully operating Melnik today

The site remains very much active today thanks to Tereos operating the factory, now a packaging center since 2004. All packaging lines were modernized and the sugar silos and storage facilities are still operating as the older parts of the main production building were demolished.

Most Tereos packaged sugar is intended for the local market, but products are also sent across Europe in France, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania or Spain.

Today, 70,000 tons of sugar are packaged each year! The absolute record was reached in 2011-2012 as 100,000 tons of sugar were packaged in Melnik during that period!

Tereos is honored to run this site with such a significant history and looks forward to the next century of operation.