TABER, ALBERTA, Alta. – The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers marketing board has reached a new four-year agreement with sugar company Lantic Inc.
Montreal-based Lantic had threatened to wind down operations at its plant in Taber, Alta., the only sugar-beet processing plant in Canada, if a deal couldn’t be reached.
Lantic, a subsidiary of Rogers Sugar Inc. (TSX:RSI), said its production target is 80,000 tonnes of refined sugar this year.
“We are very pleased to have a long-term agreement. We think it will bring stability to the industry and to the town of Taber and Alberta,” Lantic vice-president Manon Lacroix said Wednesday.
“A total of approximately 22,000 acres will be targeted for planting over the next few days.”
About 200 sugar beet growers in the region were waiting for the deal before seeding their fields.
The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers said it is pleased with the agreement. It said the delay in reaching a deal should not affect the crop this year.
“It is expected that the seeding delay will not affect the crop yields and production volumes will be consistent with last year’s production,” the group said in a release.
Farmers in southern Alberta grow the vast majority of Canada’s sugar beets, while Ontario producers ship their crop to the U.S. for processing.
Lantic’s factory in Taber employs up to 250 full- and part-time workers. The company’s website says it can produce up to 150,000 tonnes of sugar a year.
Lantic also operates factories in Montreal and Vancouver that process imported raw sugarcane.
The previous three-year agreement with Alberta sugar beet growers expired at the end of last year.
Financial details of the new deal were not released Wednesday.
— By John Cotter in Edmonton