“Rogers Sugar Refinery Strike Threatens Holiday Season For Bakers and Candy Makers”
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, but for small businesses across Western Canada, the ongoing strike at the Rogers Sugar refinery in Vancouver is casting a bitter shadow. Shortages and rising costs of sugar are leaving bakers and candy makers struggling to keep up with the demands of their business during this crucial time of the year.
Holiday Treats in Jeopardy
For Tanya Muller, the owner of Le Gateau Bakeshop in Vancouver, the looming worry of not being able to fulfill her orders of holiday cookies is causing concern. Typically, her bakery goes through 150 to 200 kilograms of sugar per week during the Christmas season. With sugar in short supply, and her supplier only able to provide a limited amount, Muller fears she might not be able to meet her holiday revenue goals. This comes as an added worry as her deadline to repay a pandemic business loan looms in January.
Forced Closures on the Horizon
Martin Barnett, executive director of the Baking Association of Canada, echoed Muller’s concerns, noting that the holiday season is the time when bakeries make the most money. If they aren’t able to produce the volume expected due to the ongoing strike, it is likely that a few small bakeries may have to close their doors.
Supply Chain Woes and Import Dependence
Canada produces approximately 1.2 million tonnes of refined sugar annually, the majority of which comes from raw cane sugar imported to three refining operations in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. The strike at the Vancouver refinery has exacerbated the country’s dependence on imported sugar, leading to supply issues being experienced across western provinces.
138 workers at the Vancouver refinery have been off the job since late September, with the strike showing no signs of ending as the union and employer remain at odds over wages, benefits, and proposed increases in refinery operations to 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Union president Adrian Soldera expressed concern over the impact of the strike, acknowledging that sugar demand is at its highest during the holiday season.
While the most severe supply issues are concentrated in British Columbia, the strike’s impact is felt across western provinces. Candy makers and bakers in Calgary and Regina have reported shortages and price increases due to the strike.
Rogers Sugar claims there is an “ample supply” of their other products despite localized supply impacts for brown sugar and some packaged white sugar in Western Canada. The company is maintaining operations at a reduced level and is committed to reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with its workers.
The ongoing strike at the Rogers Sugar refinery in Vancouver paints a grim picture for small businesses across Western Canada. From bakeries to candy makers, the effects of the strike are rippling through the entire supply chain, leading to shortages, price increases, and concerns over the ability to meet holiday demand. As the strike continues, the pressure mounts on all parties involved to find a resolution that would prevent further harm to the local economy and small businesses during these unprecedented times.