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Sales of canner jars gets struggling maple spread producer out of a jam

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WATCH: There has been a shortage of mason jars on the market due in part to an increase in the number of people gardening and canning amid the pandemic. Shelley Steeves has the story – Oct 5, 2020

Maple spreads and products have been Briggs Maples’ bread and butter for more than 20 years.

But business has been anything but sweet of late, said owner David Briggs of Riverview, N.B., who added that sales are down up to 75 per cent this fall due to COVID-19.

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“September and October are probably our two biggest months. With the cruise ship and tourism markets, that’s zero right now,” Briggs said.

It was clear he needed something to supplement his losses, but he said he never dreamed it would be in the form of glass jars.

“People are buying one, two, and three cases and some people are buying a whole pallet of bottles,” Briggs said, adding that demand for canner bottles is skyrocketing amid the pandemic.

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“Everybody grew a garden this year so we need to put that stuff in jars to package it for the winter,” he said.

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If you have been searching for old fashioned mason jars, you may be in a pickle this year.

“We have March of 2021 right now to get containers of mason jars to start flowing back into the stores,” said Darrell Wells, sales representative with Richard’s Packaging Inc. in Halifax., N.S.

The pandemic slowed mason jar production in China, Wells said. U.S. tariffs on imported glass products forced companies to source glass jars in Taiwan instead, which delayed distribution, according to Wells.

Couple that with the increased demand amid COVID 19 because so many people are bottling items from their gardens, and the bottles have been hard to come by.

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Read more: Why is there a shortage of canned soda pop in Canada?

But he said it has also paved the way for a jar alternative for which Richard’s Packaging holds the rights to the moulds.

“They are called euro jars. They are a one-piece lid and they are for a hot fill,” he said.

The jars, he said, are a more modern version of the mason that you don’t have to heat in the oven to seal the lids.

Wells said business is up by 50 per cent due to demand for the jars which was an unexpected positive spin of the pandemic he said.

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Bulk buyers will have to let their enthusiasm cool just a bit.

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“Now we have a two-day turnaround to even process an order to ship out versus prior COVID, you would order the same day or ship the same day,” Wells said.

Meanwhile, Briggs, now filling smaller orders, said he can barely keep the jars in stock, which is helping supplement income lost to low maple sales.

“This has helped fill the gap,” Briggs said.