Tate & Lyle through the ages

To find out more about the major events in Tate & Lyle’s history, click on the timeline below.
To jump forward or backward in time, click on the years.

To find out more about the founders of our business use the links on the left.

Tate & Lyle through the ages. To find out about the major events in Tate & Lyle's history, click on the timeline above.


 Henry Tate

Henry Tate enters the cane refining business

Henry Tate first entered the cane refining business in 1859 when he went into partnership with John Wright, a sugar refiner based at Manesty Lane, Liverpool. When that partnership came to an end in 1869, Tate was joined in business by his two sons, Alfred and Edwin, and Henry Tate & Sons was formed. A new refinery in Love Lane, Liverpool was opened in 1872.

 Sugar Cubes

Henry Tate introduced cube sugar to the UK

The sugar cube was invented by a German, Eugen Langen, in 1875, in partnership with David Martineau. During that year, Henry Tate bought the rights to the technology and introduced cube sugar to the UK.

 Thames Refinery

Henry Tate & Sons opened Thames Refinery in Silvertown, London

Today Tate & Lyle is the largest cane sugar refiner in the UK, with a brand name that is famous around the world. A century ago it was a very different story.

In 1864 there were 74 refineries in the country, often small businesses run by families such as the MacFies, Martineaus, Fairries, Walkers and Kerrs. It was against this background of competition that both Henry Tate and Abram Lyle began their respective sugar businesses, with Thames Refinery specialising in making cube sugar.

 Lyle's Golden Syrup delivery van

Abram Lyle & Sons opened Plaistow Refinery in London

Abram Lyle & Sons started melting sugar at Plaistow Refinery, just 1.5 miles from Henry Tate & Son's Thames Refinery. Lyle’s Golden Syrup quickly became popular and Lyle was soon selling a tonne a week.

 Lyle's Golden Syrup Tin

Lyle’s Golden Syrup first filled into tins

Lyle’s Golden Syrup’s iconic green and gold tins are the world’s oldest branding.

Lyle's Golden Syrup was originally made in small quantities and sold in wooden casks to employees and local customers. As its popularity grew, these casks soon gave way to large dispensers that were placed on the shelves of grocery stores. Lyle's Golden Syrup was first filled into tins in 1885. Today, more than a million of these same tins leave Plaistow each month.

 A. E. Staley

Augustus Eugene Staley founded the A E Staley Manufacturing Company in Decatur, Illinois

At the beginning of the 20th century, American entrepreneur Augustus Eugene (Gene) Staley was buying bulk starch for two cents a pound, repackaging it under his own Cream Starch label, and selling it for a profit of five cents a pound. When his suppliers realised that Staley was serious competition, they joined together to cut off his supply of raw materials. Staley responded by setting up the A E Staley Manufacturing Company in 1906.


Marquis formed (later renamed United Molasses)

Marquis, an importer of cattle feed, was formed in Liverpool. Under its Danish owner, Sir Michael Kroyer Kielberg, the company began shipping molasses in bulk, using a custom-built 3,000-ton storage tank in Hull.

In 1925 Kielberg moved to London and renamed his incorporated company United Molasses. As he found new, competitively-priced sources of molasses, Kielberg required a longer-range, faster fleet. To meet the demand, he launched the Athel Line with 16 vessels. The fleet was to see many losses to enemy action during World War II.

In 1937 Kielberg sold his Liverpool sugar refinery to Tate & Lyle, and in return was invited to become a co-investor in Tate & Lyle's new West Indies raw sugar ventures. This was the beginning of a prosperous relationship between the two companies.

Kielberg retired in 1953, and ten years later United Molasses was bought by Tate & Lyle.

A E Staley began processing corn in Decatur, Illinois

On 12th March 1912 A E Staley began processing corn in Decatur, Illinois

The business made a range of food and industrial ingredients from starches and cereal sweeteners with different functional properties.

 Tate & Lyle Sugar Bag

Merger of operations of Tate and Lyle

In 1921, the rival firms of Henry Tate & Sons and Abram Lyle & Sons merged to form Tate & Lyle, between them refining around 50% of the country’s sugar.

The merger allowed the new company to become a coherent force on the sugar market in anticipation of competition from foreign sugar returning to its pre-war strength. Moreover, despite the competition between them, the two firms were very complementary. Located in Liverpool, Tate was very well placed for the market in the North, while in London, despite competition over granulated sugar, each firm maintained its speciality: Tate’s sugar cubes and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Over the years following the merger, the intense competition of the two London refineries mellowed into friendly rivalry between employees known as the ‘Tateses’ and the ‘Lyleses’. At the same time, expansion for the new company continued apace in both beet and sugar cane, and through the acquisition of smaller UK refiners.

FT-30 created with Tate & Lyle as one of the founder companies

Tate & Lyle was one of the original constituents of the FT-30 index. There are only two constituents from the original FT-30 index still listed today – GKN and Tate & Lyle.

 Thames Refinery

Thames Refinery now the largest cane sugar refinery in the world

Thames Refinery became the largest cane sugar refinery in the world, producing around 14,000 tons a week. To cope with the increase in output, a new pan house was built at Plaistow. It was an impressive building, standing 180ft (about 55m) high. All too soon become a target for the Luftwaffe.

 Mr Cube

‘Birth’ of Mr Cube

In the post-war era, the Labour government of Clement Attlee pursued a policy of nationalisation for key UK industries. By 1949 it had become apparent that the British sugar industry – and more specifically Tate & Lyle – was to be included in the plan.

On the 10 February a meeting of the Board of Tate & Lyle signalled the beginning of a fierce campaign to thwart the Government's plans. Spearheading the campaign was a cartoon character, Mr Cube, drawn by artist Bobby St John Cooper.

Mr Cube fast became a household name. Appearing on sugar packets and in the press, and even travelling the country with the ‘Speakers’ Team’, which had been formed by Tate & Lyle employees, Mr Cube helped present the Company's eventually successful case for continued independence.


Tate & Lyle purchased United Molasses and became the world leader in molasses trading

With the acquisition of United Molasses (originally named Marquis), Tate & Lyle became the world leader in molasses trading.

 SPLENDA® Sucralose

Discovery of sucralose

Sucralose, the no-calorie sweetener, was discovered by Tate & Lyle in conjunction with researchers at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, in 1976. Tate & Lyle subsequently developed the product in partnership with McNeil Nutritionals LLC (a Johnson & Johnson company) to create SPLENDA® Sucralose.

Tate & Lyle acquired one-third stake in Amylum

In the first of a series of events that shaped the modern-day Tate & Lyle, the company acquired a one-third stake in Amylum in 1976. This was Tate & Lyle’s first major interest in cereal sweetener and starch-based manufacturing. Tate & Lyle's share increased to 63% in 1988; and the company assumed full ownership of Amylum in 2000.

 Sidul Sachets

Investment in Portuguese sugar producer, Alcântara

Alcântara started life in 1890 when John Peter Hornung began exploring sugar cane production in Mozambique and established the 'Companhia do Assucar de Mocambique'.

At the time, Mozambique was a Portuguese colony, so Hornung decided that Lisbon was the right place to build a refinery. Hornung’s refinery, Refinaria Colonial, located in Alcântara, was opened in 1909 by King Manuel II and his uncle, Don Afonso. It produced around 400 tons a week.

By 1950, Refinaria Colonial had become Sidul (Sociadade Industrial do Ultramar). Mozambique gained independence in 1975, and in 1980 a new company, Alcântara – Sociedade de Empreendimentos Açucareiros, SA, was formed which owned Sidul, the Lisbon refinery. In 1989 Alcântara purchased Sores (Sociedade de Refinadores de Santa Iria, SA) and Sidul and Sores were merged to form Alcântara Refinarias Açucares, SA.

The Sidul refinery closed in 1994 and all production was moved to Santa Iria. Today the refinery continues to make Portugal’s two famous retail sugar brands, Sidul and Sores.

 Decatur Administration Building

Acquisition of 90% of A E Staley Manufacturing Co. & increase in Amylum stake to 63%

In 1988 Tate & Lyle acquired 90% of A E Staley Manufacturing Co., and increased its stake in Amylum to 63%.

 Cleaning products containing Citric Acid

Acquisition of citric acid business, Haarmann & Reimer

With the acquisition of Haarmann & Reimer, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, Tate & Lyle became the world's leading producer of citric acid.

Acquisition of remaining minority interests in A E Staley and Amylum

In 2000, Tate & Lyle acquired the outstanding minority interests of both companies to establish our worldwide sweeteners and starches business.

 DuPont Sorona Fabrics

Partnership with DuPont to produce Bio-PDO™

Tate & Lyle and DuPont announced a new joint venture in the US to produce Bio-PDO™, a textile polymer ingredient made from renewable resources for use in their fabric, DuPont™ Sorona®.

Being made from renewable resources, Bio-PDO™ is a replacement for petrochemicals, and its production uses less energy with fewer emissions than synthetic production methods.

Tate & Lyle took responsibility for the manufacture of sucralose

In April 2004 Tate & Lyle realigned its agreements with McNeil Nutritionals. Under the new agreement, Tate & Lyle became the sole manufacturer of SPLENDA® Sucralose, and responsible for global sales of the product as an ingredient to food and beverage manufacturers, while McNeil Nutritionals owned the SPLENDA® trademark and became responsible for global sales and marketing of SPLENDA® No-Calorie Sweetener tabletop and food service products to consumers.

Acquisition of Cesalpinia Foods

Tate & Lyle acquired the Italian company, Cesalpinia Foods. Cesalpinia was established in the 1960s as a producer of natural flavours and later diversified into manufacturing and marketing natural gums and stabilisers.

 Limited Edition Lyle's Golden Syrup tin

Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin named world’s oldest branding

The Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin design was named by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest branding. The distinctive green and gold Victorian-style design has altered little since it was first produced in 1885, although the tin itself was made from strong cardboard during the war years when metal was in short supply. Abram Lyle had strong religious beliefs, which is why the tin features a quotation from the Bible: "Out of the strong came forth sweetness".

Acquisition of Continental Custom Ingredients

Tate & Lyle acquired US specialty food ingredients company Continental Custom Ingredients (CCI). CCI was founded in 1975, and became a recognised leader in dairy stabilisers and emulsifier systems, working closely with customers to develop ingredient systems for the North American market.

Launch of Tate & Lyle Ventures

With an investment of £25 million over a five-year period, Tate & Lyle set up a wholly-owned venture fund, Tate & Lyle Ventures. The fund invests in start-ups and expansion-stage companies that support Tate & Lyle’s strategic growth focus to deliver next-generation food and industrial ingredients.

 Opening ceremony of Singapore plant

Official opening of SPLENDA® sucralose plant in Singapore

Tate & Lyle opened a new sucralose plant on Jurong Island in Singapore.

Acquisition of 80% interest in G. C. HAHN & Co.

Tate & Lyle acquired an 80% holding in German speciality food ingredients group G. C. Hahn & Co (Hahn).

Hahn was founded in 1848 as a privately-owned company. A recognised leader in dairy stabiliser systems, Hahn works closely with customers across the world to develop customised ingredient solutions. Its headquarters and primary operations are located in Lübeck, Germany, and it also has production operations in the UK and Australia, and sales offices in 22 countries.

Opening of DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio-Products Bio-PDO™ plant in Loudon, Tennessee

DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, LLC, an equally-owned joint venture of DuPont and Tate & Lyle, opened its new facility to produce 1,3-propanediol (Bio-PDO™) from renewable resources.

Sale of five European starch plants

Tate & Lyle sold five European starch plants (part of the Amylum business) to Syral SAS (a subsidiary of Tereos of France).

Opening of R&D Laboratory in Shanghai

Tate & Lyle opened a satellite Research & Development facility in Shanghai, China, specialising in beverage, dairy and bakery applications.

 Lille Innovation Centre

Opening of Innovation Centre in Lille, France

Tate & Lyle opened an Innovation Centre in Lille, France to develop new and innovative ingredients with clinically-proven health benefits in the fields of weight management, digestive health, vitality and healthy ageing.

 Tate & Lyle & HAHN images

G. C. HAHN & Co began trading under the Tate & Lyle Food Systems name

G. C. HAHN & Co began trading under the Tate & Lyle Food Systems name, joining Cesalpinia Food and Tate & Lyle’s stabliser businesses in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, which were already trading under the Tate & Lyle Food Systems name.

Sale of sugar and molasses businesses

Tate & Lyle sold its sugar business (EU operations), including the Lyle’s Golden Syrup brand, to American Sugar Refining, Inc (ASR), thus largely ending the Company’s long association with cane sugar refining. As part of the deal, the “Tate & Lyle Sugar” name was licensed to ASR to ensure the familiar “Tate & Lyle” brand remains on supermarket shelves. Later in the year, the global molasses and storage business was sold to W&R Barnett Ltd.

Commissioning of the new European polydextrose line

Tate & Lyle commissioned a new STA-LITE® Polydextrose line, the first of its kind in Europe, at its plant in Koog, the Netherlands, in response to increasing demand for functional food ingredients. STA-LITE® Polydextrose, a soluble fibre, is a premium, low-calorie bulking agent used to provide body and texture in reduced-calorie, no-added-sugar and / or high-fibre foods.


Global Shared Services Centre opens in Łódź, Poland

Tate & Lyle opened a new Global Shared Services Centre in Łódź, Poland to provide all back-office functions for finance, payroll and IT.


Tate & Lyle acquired Biovelop, a Swedish manufacturer of oat beta glucan

In May 2013, Tate & Lyle acquired Biovelop, a Swedish manufacturer of oat beta glucan. This business, now known as Tate & Lyle Oat Ingredients, uses a unique technology to manufacture, without the use of chemicals, high quality oat beta glucan, a soluble fibre with widely approved health claims.

Joint Venture formed with leading Food Systems business Jiangsu Howbetter Food Co., Ltd

In October 2013, Tate & Lyle acquired 51% of Jiangsu Howbetter Food Co., Ltd (“Howbetter”), a leading Food Systems business in the People’s Republic of China, thereby establishing the Tate & Lyle Howbetter joint venture.


Acquisition of Winway Biotechnology Co Ltd, China

In August 2014 Tate & Lyle acquired Winway Biotechnology Nantong Co. Ltd, a leading producer of polydextrose fibre. It became our third polydextrose facility globally, in addition to existing lines in the Netherlands and the US.

Joint Venture formed with leading Brazilian Food Systems business Gemacom Tech Indústria e Comércio S.A.

In December 2014, Tate & Lyle and Gemacom Tech, leading domestically-owned Food Systems business in Brazil, have formed a joint venture called Tate & Lyle Gemacom Tech.

Tate & Lyle re-aligns European Eaststarch business

Tate & Lyle re-aligns its Eaststarch corn wet milling joint venture by acquiring full ownership of the speciality-focused plant in Slovakia strengthening its Speciality Food Ingredients business, and reducing its European Bulk Ingredients footprint by and exiting the predominantly Bulk Ingredients plants in Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary.