In Argentina’s agricultural and paper manufacturing industry there is no company more important than the one named Ledesma, established in 1908 in the San Francisco Valley, Province of Jujuy.   At its inception, Ledesma was dedicated to producing sugar cane, and since 1982 has added a wet corn mill to produce a variety of sweetens apart from sugar.   Since 1965 the company begun to incorporate the cellulose and paper mill technology while processing as raw material the residues from sugarcane.  During its over one hundred years of tradition in agro-industrial business,

Ledesma has emerged as a greatly diversified and stable enterprise, while having only four presidents since its founding; and is known to be the largest sugar producer in Argentina.  While taking into account the globalization trends and purchase of Argentinean companies by foreign capital, it is a great achievement on the part of Ledesma for its continuation to be administered by Argentinean executives and elevate Argentinean agricultural products and their branding to higher standards, therefore setting the standard for other companies to follow. 

With the chairmanship of Herminio Arrieta, Ledesma continued its expansion in sugar production, purchased more land, which spans in more than forty thousand hectares planted with sugar cane, and plants of sugar processing, cellulose, paper production derived from sugar cane fibers, alcohol and bioethanol. In its production trajectory, Ledesma has had a sugar production record during 1976-1977 with a production of 263 thousand metric tons. 

In 1970, Ledesma company welcomed a new president, Dr. Carlos Pedro Blaquier, who built upon the tradition of former presidents.  He continued by adding more value to the enterprise and introduced the fruit, juice, meat and cereal businesses.  In addition to these new product processing enterprises, Blaquier brought for the first time to the company a wet corn milling technology  and begun to secure Ledesma’s position in the twenty first century.   With all these achievements steady growth for the largest agricultural company in Argentina, Ledesma currently employs more than 7,700 people in its facilities and plantation.

In 2009, Ledesma experienced a further growth and expansion of its production line. It purchased for USD 5.8 million the company named Citrusalta.  In addition to being the major sugar and paper producer in Argentina, Ledesma is striving to become a leader in the growth and processing of citrus fruit and products, including: plantations of citrus, mandarins, avocado, but mostly with oranges and limes. The company boasts a facility equipped with modern packaging technology and a plant producing juice concentrates.

Ledesma currently has over 40,000 hectares (approximately 90 thousand acres) planted with sugarcane, industrial units of sugar (a method of plantation to increase the production of sugar), cellulose paper and alcohol.  The company has also in cultivation mode over 2,000 ha (4.900 acres) of plantations of citrus and avocados, a packaging plant and a plant of concentrated juice.  Ledesma acquired its own power plant, producing over 51,000 kW, through biofuel and bagasse technology.   And has continuously showed a high level of responsibility for the ecosystem and environment, such as the donation of 75 thousand acres for the creation of national park of Calilegua or the improvement and installation of soil drainage systems and conducts the collection of various residues in a separate fashion while allowing a higher degree of their recycling; Ledesma built and maintains1,400 km of irrigation channels. 

In 2009, Ledesma has established a partnership with Cargill, named Glucovil Argentina, which is focused on adding value to corn production by conducting a wet milling process. Through this process, Ledesma derives fructose syrup and produces paper. 

In the same year, Ledesma purchased Citrusalta S.A. which is a leader in grapefruit, therefore adding more than 800 hectares (1.976 acres) in fruit tree groves and a packaging plant in the neighboring province of Salta.  By establishing a partnership with La Biznaga S.A., Ledesma produces beef cattle and grain in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Entre Ríos, covering an area of more than 51,534 hectares (127 thousand acres).

According to NYKCool one of the world's largest companies focused on sea transportation, the production of citrus from the River Plate region in Argentina is the major commodity exported to Northern and Eastern Europe, South Africa, the Mediterranean, and Japan.

With its unmatched role in the production of fruits and mainly oranges and citrus, Ledesma has emerged as the main exporter of oranges and has packaged 53,430 tons of fresh fruit and 6,476 tons of juices concentrates during 2008-2009, its major customers are located in the European Union and the Middle East. In December 2011, Ledesma has signed a strategic partnership with Cargill with the objective to expand its operations in the wet milling process of Corn in their plant of San Luis, where they are processing sugar substitutes for food and beverage products.     
 

Spero analyst Peter Tase is a former Peace Corps volunteer who observes shipping, agriculture and bio-energy. 

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