Sugar shelves empty just in time for Christmas as shortage strengthens
Christmas baking will be a stretch for many this year, as the sugar shortage yields barren shelves at the store. Over at Wheatland Mall, Pioneer Co-op already has encountered empty stock. The sugar section lays empty, with only artificial sweeteners remaining. For James Spur, grocery manager at the Pioneer Co-op in Swift Current, the shortage is forcing him to resort to similar methods used during the Covid-19 pandemic. "Unfortunately, the difference between the sugar and when Covid was is, during Covid, I could look on the warehouse inventory and say OK, they have stock coming this day, this day, this day and order those days," said Spur. "For the sugar, there's nothing coming at all. They have a little bit now, but if I order 50 cases, they'll send us two." The sugar shortage is a symptom of the Rogers Sugar facility in B.C. shutting down while employees and Rogers Sugars seek arbitration. The strike seeks to avoid schedule changes the union disagrees with, and a few other issues that have brought production to a standstill. In the meantime, the effects are being felt across western Canada. Swift Current is one of many communities that are experiencing the blowback just in time for the holidays. Spur is working hard to try and secure as much sugar as he can for the community. His current limitation is not in what Pioneer Co-op can afford to purchase, but in how much they are allowed to secure from the warehouse. The warehouse is limiting his location to 22 cases in an order, with each case consisting of two 10 KG bags. "They're trying to make sure that each retail gets some," said Spur. "Unfortunately, you know they decided to limit that to two bags. For us, two bags are two customers and we have a lot more than two customers coming every day." While Spur does not know when the limits will be lifted, he has tried to find other suppliers. Cane sugar is one he has tried to find, but the prices he is able to negotiate have been unpalatable. "They're wanting to charge like $7.00 for a half pound of sugar," said Spur. "Which is ridiculous." For now, Spur is recommending that people look into sugar substitutes like honey. Information can be found online and in various cooking information resources on how much honey it takes to replace an amount of sugar. "I would have to recommend the honey," said Spur. "There hasn't been a shortage of honey. That's probably going to be the way to go." In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, Swift Current Online encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the Swift Current Online app.