UPDATE: Alta. beet growers will meet today to decide sugar industry future

UPDATE: Monday May 4, 2015 – 1325 CST

Alberta sugar beet growers will meet later today to discuss the future of Alberta’s — and Canada’s — domestic sugar industry.

Lantic Sugar, operator of the only beet sugar refining plant, has threatened to close the Taber-based facility unless growers accept a final contract offer, according to Alberta Sugar Beet Growers executive director Gerald Third.

“Things have spiraled out of control,” said Third on Sunday.

Contract talks between growers and Lantic broke off last week when the ASBG rejected Lantic’s latest offer.

Third said the company has since been contacting growers directly, urging them to force a vote. However, there is no mechanism in the ASBG regulations that to occur.

Manon Lacroix, vice-president of finance for Lantic, said May 4 that the company continues to negotiate with the ASBG. She said she could not comment on whether the company is also contacting individual growers.

“We’re still hopeful to reach an agreement with them,” said Lacroix about the ASBG. She declined to provide details of the offer.

Without a 2015 beet crop contracted, she said the Taber factory would process the remaining thick juice in inventory.

“After that we would supply our customers through our two cane refineries. We have one in Montreal and one in Vancouver.”

As for the growers, a meeting is scheduled at 3 p.m. today to discuss the situation, said Third.

“We are all trying to figure out a way to force a sugar beet deal to avoid closure of this plant,” he said.

Third said payment for sugar is a key issue in the dispute. He said Lantic wants to pay based on “extracted” sugar from beets, rather than “extractable” sugar from the crop. That means the company would pay growers based on what it processed from harvested beets, rather than on the crop’s complete sugar content.

“Growers want to be paid for the sugar they deliver,” said Third.

Last year, southern Alberta growers planted 22,000 acres of beets with near record sugar content due to good growing conditions.

All sugar beets are contracted through Lantic, as operator of the only domestic sugar processing plant in Canada.

Ordinarily most sugar beets would already be planted, but without a contract no seeding has taken place.

The Taber sugar factory has been operating since 1950. Generally known as the Rogers sugar plant, it has been owned by Lantic Inc. since Rogers and Lantic merged in 2008.

It has 100 to 120 permanent employees and hires additional staff for seasonal work during beet harvest and processing every fall and winter.

 

Talks break down between beet growers, plant owner

posted May 4, 2015 – 1010 CST

Alberta sugar beet growers will meet later today to discuss the future of Alberta’s — and Canada’s — domestic sugar industry.

Lantic Sugar, operator of the only sugar refining plant, has threatened to close the Taber-based factory unless growers accept a contract offer, according to Alberta Sugar Beet Growers executive director Gerald Third.

“Things have spiraled out of control,” said Third on Sunday.

Contract talks between growers and Lantic broke off last week when the growers rejected Lantic’s latest offer.

Third said the company has since been contacting growers directly, urging them to force a vote on its offer. However, there is no mechanism in the ASBG regulations allowing for that to occur.

Calls to Lantic about the situation have not yet been returned.

A meeting is scheduled at 3 p.m. today to discuss the situation, said Third.

“We are all trying to figure out a way to force a sugar beet deal to avoid closure of this plant,” he said.

Third said payment for sugar is a key issue in the dispute. He said Lantic wants to pay based on “extracted” sugar from beets, rather than “extractable” sugar from the crop. That means the company would pay growers based on what it processed from harvested beets, rather than on the crop’s actual sugar content.

“Growers want to be paid for the sugar they deliver,” said Third.

Last year, southern Alberta growers planted 22,000 acres of beets with near record sugar content due to good growing conditions.

All sugar beets are contracted through Lantic, as operator of the only sugar processing plant in Canada.

Ordinarily most sugar beets would already be planted, but without a contract no seeding has taken place.

A sugar factory has been operating in Taber since 1950. Generally known as the Rogers sugar plant, it has been owned by Lantic Inc. since Rogers and Lantic merged in 2008.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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