From a news release
Members of the Ontario Sugarbeet Growers’ Association (OSGA) cultivate sugarbeets which are then exported for sugar production at the Michigan Sugar Company, but the current market to Michigan is capped. OSGA has noted that growers in Lambton and Kent counties consistently deliver yields and sugar contents among the highest in the North American industry, and show significant potential to increase local sugar beet cultivation.
The OSGA’s long-term objective is to increase sugarbeet acreage, which will enhance the regional agriculture industry by providing greater opportunity for profit through re-establishing a beet-based sugar value chain within southern Ontario.
In collaboration with the OSGA and its partners, the Bio-Industrial Process Research Centre at Lambton College and Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, completed a techno-economic modelling feasibility study. The study identified suitable high value-added products and determined business scenarios where a beet-based sugar value chain could be re-established economically within southern Ontario.
In these scenarios, after a 50-year absence from the Ontario agricultural sector, sugarbeets would be grown, harvested and processed in Ontario with the products and co-products used for the food, feed and industrial biochemical markets. Based on the positive results of the techno-economic modelling study, the Ontario Innovative Sugarbeet Processors Cooperative (OISPC), a farmer cooperative, has been formed.
OISPC has initiated a project through Bioindustrial Innovation Canada to conduct a detailed study to assess the opportunity for commercial production of sugarbeet sugar for biochemical usage. The main purpose of this project is to conduct demonstration trials validating the results of the techno-economic modelling work and to develop a full business model for the beet-based sugar value chain for OSPC.
“This has been a long held dream for a number of sugarbeet growers in the area including myself. If this study is a success, it will mean the return of a viable, vibrant and profitable sugarbeet industry once again, bringing millions of new dollars into southwestern Ontario agricultural communities, and ultimately across Canada,” stated Mark Lumley, OISPC President and Chairman of Ontario Sugarbeet Growers’ Association.
“I am pleased that the federal government is supporting this innovative and sustainable technology, that will bring jobs and prosperity in the near future for Sarnia-Lambton” stated Marilyn Gladu, MP.
Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) through its Investing in Regional Diversification initiative. BIC is also funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.