Texas Producer of Chick-O-Sticks Fights To Stay Local Despite Rising Sugar Costs

The recent U.S.-Mexico sugar deal raises prices for domestic companies and consumers.

By Laura RiceJune 13, 2017 10:47 am

The Atkinson Candy Company, famous for its orange peanut butter and toasted coconut flavored Chick-O-Sticks, is a local victim of the nation’s sugar war. The Lufkin-based company is feeling the effects of regulated sugar costs that started with a 1980s program aiming to protect American sugar growers.

Lydia DePillis, a Houston Chronicle business reporter, has been following Atkinson as it struggles to keep its business in Texas, fighting the cost benefits that often accompany moving operations overseas.

She says after the U.S. and Mexico agreed on a sugar deal last week, U.S. candy makers like Atkinson will face higher domestic prices because the deal further restricts the amount of sugar imported from Mexico.

“It plays into a much larger debate that’s happening right now, because we’re in the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement,” DePillis says. “Right now, this is kind of a bargaining chip that the U.S. has. They can say, look, give us more access for milk, or softwood lumber, or all the other things we would like to sell into those countries and maybe we will relax our sugar program restrictions.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What obstacles exist for other Texas companies trying to stay local

– How sugar may come into play during NAFTA renegotiations

– How import restrictions impact both U.S. producers and consumers


Written by Lila Weatherly.