Will $200 million for expansion of Rogers Sugar plant in Montreal have implications on the right to water in Guatemala?

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press.

The Canadian Press reports: “Rogers Sugar Inc. has announced plans to spend $200 million to grow its production capacity at its plant in Montreal to help meet increased demand in Eastern Canada. The company said Monday [August 14] the plan will increase production capacity at the plant by about 20 per cent or 100,000 tonnes a year.”

The Lantic Rogers media release on this can be read here.

The Canadian Press article adds: “The company will also expand its logistics and storage capacity in the Greater Toronto Area.”

And it notes: “The announcement came as Rogers Sugar reported a third-quarter profit of $14.2 million or 12 cents per diluted share, up from $3.1 million or three cents per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter ended July 1 totalled $262.3 million, up from $254.6 million in the same period a year earlier.”

Implications for Guatemala

The news article and media release do not specifically mention the source of sugar to feed the increased capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year.

But we would highlight at this point that between 2015 and 2022, Canada imported 1.46 million metric tons of sugar from Guatemala.

Given this US Department of Agriculture report notes that “the sugarcane crop system [in Guatemala] only requires 100 cubic meters of water per ton”, we can generally estimate that the 1,460,833 metric tons of sugar that Canada has imported since 2015, has required approximately 146,083,300 cubic meters of water.

On our recent visit to the South Coast of Guatemala, PBI-Canada saw diminished and polluted rivers attributed to sugar production and visited numerous communities that shared stories about how the water required for sugar mills had dried wells and gardens.

As noted in the US Department of Agriculture report: “Guatemala’s main export channel continues to be Port Quetzal. The sugar industry’s exporter terminal – EXPOGRANEL – maintains its installed capacity to receive 800 MT of sugar per hour bulk vessel filling at a speed of 2,164 MT of sugar per hour.”

That sugar enters Canada at ports in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

We are currently in the process of trying to determine if the increased production capacity in Montreal will have implications for communities in Guatemala that are already struggling with the impacts of sugar production on their right to water.


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