MONTREAL -- Sugar shack owners are hoping that a record harvest in 2020 and the coming season will make for a sweeter year, to compensate for the sourness of the pandemic.

This year, dining rooms will be shut for the second year in a row and roughly a quarter of Quebec's sugar shacks have gone out of business. But perfect weather conditions means that output has been better than ever and so is demand.

“The pandemic, that's a weird situation. People stopped going to restaurants and hotels, they stayed at home, they started cooking more, so they use more maple syrup,” said Quebec Maple Syrup Producers Association spokesperson Simon Trepanier.

The majority of Quebec's syrup is destined for export, a market that grew by 20 per cent last year.

“It used to be very folkloric, very traditional but now it's also an industry and it's bringing a lot of money from outside Canada into our country,” said Trepanier, who estimated that maple syrup has become a billion dollar industry.

Quebec produces three quarters of the world's maple syrup.

However, most family-run sugar shacks don't export their product and serve it only to customers.

Erabliere Charbonneau owner Melane Charbonneau said the past year has been “very difficult. We lost a lot of money.”

She fears that if this season goes the same way as last, the province could lose a valuable part of its heritage.

“Sugar shacks, it's traditional from Quebec. I think everybody goes once a year to a sugar shack during the spring. If we lose that, it's very, very sad.”