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Hutchinson Acres finds more buyers, new dealings despite frozen Saudi deal

<p>A crew from Hutchinson Acres Maple Syrup in Lake Paul, Kings County had the chance to pitch their unique PURE Infused Maple Syrup line to the stars of CBC’s the Dragons’ Den. The product, displayed in the photo by Leanne Dobrota, can be purchased at Sobeys and various farm markets and wineries in Nova Scotia.</p>
Hutchinson Acres' marketing manager, Leanne Dobrota, holds a line of maple syrup sold by the Lake Paul business. Owner Anna Hutchinson said despite a trade freeze with Saudi Arabia, her company will continue forging partnerships with the Middle East and other markets. - Ashley Thompson

Anna Hutchinson says business has ‘no intentions of this holding us back’

LAKE PAUL – Tapping into a deal with Saudi Arabia may have turned sour for a Lake Paul maple syrup maker, but it’s now met a sweet resolution that’s boiled down to more business.

Anna Hutchinson says Hutchinson Acres, her maple syrup business, forged a business deal with a partner in Saudi Arabia nearly one year ago. After endless days spent vetting purchases, label translations and shipping, she was informed the deal was on hold after the country froze nearly all trade dealings with Canada over a human rights dispute.

“We were a week away from shipping it – we were just waiting for word on which ship they’d be sent on so we could finish our customs paperwork. That’s when we got the call,” says Hutchinson.

"We now have a lot of new customers who didn’t know maple syrup was made in Nova Scotia,” says Anna Hutchinson.
"We now have a lot of new customers who didn’t know maple syrup was made in Nova Scotia,” says Anna Hutchinson.

The company was left in a sticky situation to say the least, says Hutchinson, who was interviewed about the story on national television. Her story soon went viral, and she sold the entire shipment to individual buyers – all 900 litres of it.

She says she and her team were on their computers for four straight days, fighting to keep up with incoming calls and messages.

And now, as the original shipment is sold out, buyers continue pouring in from Canada and the United States, with a demand so strong the business can barely keep up.

“People are still looking to buy our product. We’re promoting our original Hutchinson brand to them, and we now have a lot of new customers who didn’t know maple syrup was made in Nova Scotia,” she says.

Hutchinson says the sour deal has not weakened the business’ resolve to continue selling in international markets. With existing partnerships in China, Europe and the Middle East, she and Hutchinson marketing manager Leanne Dobrota will travel to Japan and South Korea on a trade mission at the end of September.

“We’re going to continue focusing on the Middle East because it’s a great market, and there are still a lot of people that live there and would love to have a Canadian product,” says Anna Hutchinson.
“We’re going to continue focusing on the Middle East because it’s a great market, and there are still a lot of people that live there and would love to have a Canadian product,” says Anna Hutchinson.

“These things that happen in politics and governments have nothing to do with our relationships with the customer. You can’t stop what you’re doing, and we have no intentions of this holding us back,” says Hutchinson.

She also confirmed her business has stopped exporting their products to the United States since a 25 per cent tariff was placed on maple syrup imports from Canada.

She says while she will still sell to individual American buyers, she has no intentions of rekindling a relationship with American buyers when other areas consistently prove they are more willing buyers of her products.

And as far as words of wisdom for her fellow small-business exporters, she advises them to forge ahead – with a hint of caution.

“We’re going to continue focusing on the Middle East because it’s a great market, and there are still a lot of people that live there and would love to have a Canadian product,” she says.

‘Do your due diligence – that’s all we can do.”

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