For Troubled Monk president Charlie Bredo, nothing “beets” Alberta sugar.
The brewery uses sugar from sugar beets grown in the province in its craft sodas and hard iced tea.
“The flavour that comes from beet sugar we found to be a little bit better. It seemed to work a little more,” Bredo said.
But most Canadians get their sugar from foreign sources.
According to the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers (ASBG), Canada only produces eight to 10 per cent of the sugar that is consumed within the country, something the organization wants to change.
The group is pushing the federal government to implement a domestic sugar policy that would gradually increase the amount of Canadian sugar within Canada’s borders.
“A lot of value along the whole supply-chain has been given away,” ASBG executive director Melody Garner-Skiba said. “It’s been given to those farmers in Brazil and Guatemala and it’s not helping us from a GDP or job perspective.”
Garner-Skiba says there is a waiting list of farmers looking to grow sugar beets, but a policy is needed to increased the acres dedicated to the vegetable.
She says if even 20 per cent of the country’s sugar came from Canadian sugar beets, it would huge for the industry.
“We could see more sugar beets being grown and new farmers coming in. It would just give another level of opportunity that doesn’t exist now, because our factory is at capacity,” Garner-Skiba said.
Canada only has one factory that processes beet sugar, in Taber. The ASBG says Ontario sugar beet farmers currently send their crops to Michigan for processing.
By increasing the local sugar source, both Bredo and Garner-Skiba believe it can help solve economic issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously with COVID and the craziness… with supply chains, we want to have vibrant, local economies to help support businesses here,” Bredo said.
“We can bring more of that value here, employ more Albertans and Canadians and really help the economy post-pandemic get back on its feet, if we were to have a policy like this,” Garner-Skiba said.
Global News reached out to Agri-Food Canada and the federal agriculture minister to ask whether a federal sugar policy might be an option, but we have not yet received a response.