High stakes in the maple syrup business
Thievery, skyrocketing prices and a powerful cartel? Your pancake topping is filled with intrigue.
By Bruce Kennedy
Imagine one country quietly controlling 70% of a globally desired resource, a commodity whose growing demand and higher prices have made related stocks vulnerable to multimillion-dollar acts of fraud.
This isn't petroleum or some red herring in a spy novel. It's maple syrup. And the Canadian province of Quebec holds nearly all the cards in its production.
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers is a cartel. "It's like OPEC," Simon Trépanier, the federation's acting general manager, recently told The New York Times. "We're not producing all the maple syrup in the world. But by producing 70 to 78%, we have the ability to adjust the quantity that is in the marketplace."
The production of maple syrup is very labor intensive and requires just the right weather conditions. Freezing nights and above-freezing days are needed to get the sap flowing properly in mature maple trees, which are tapped for about six weeks in spring. It takes about 40 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of syrup.
In 2008, after several years of poor harvests and increasing international demand -- the U.S., Japan and Germany are big fans of maple syrup -- the federation started what it calls the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve, which Trépanier says holds about 46 million pounds of syrup.
"In the long term, supply instability has a negative effect on everyone and harms development and innovation," Serge Beaulieu, the federation's president, said earlier this year. Beaulieu said the reserve has helped manage risk.
The federation says the reserve ensures "that markets receive a continuous supply of syrup, regardless of harvest. Further, it will help to prevent discounted sales and price fluctuations. It provides stability and a secure supply while assuring optimal storage conditions."
Price jumps have been a big issue. Recent warmer winters have played havoc with production in both Canada and northern U.S., particularly in New England, affecting production costs and supply. In 2010, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the average price for a gallon of maple syrup was $34 in Vermont, where 80% of sales were made in bulk. In Connecticut, however, where most sales were retail, maple syrup was selling at $70 per gallon.
Bloomberg reports the cost of maple syrup has soared 182% over the past 32 years. Those higher prices have apparently proved irresistible to thieves looking for a sweet target.
Just this month, officials in Quebec made several arrests after a record $18 million in syrup was discovered missing from reserve warehouses. Law officers in the U.S. and Canada are trying to track down and recover what they can before it is consumed.
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Anyone that compares Corn syrup to Maple has got to be from a Red State...Sweet Geezus. Ugh.
Did you hear that Aunt Jemima....??
Here's a little secret ..Quebec imports REAL maple syrup from Vermont and mixes it with their sub-standard product to make it taste good :-)
Anyone that doesn't like maple syrup must have some jacked up taste buds, ha! ha!
Repy to Deerfarmer 450
The best winemaking site on the web is . I don't use the lemon or spice.
Did someone back, say what kind of syrup, Jesus said he liked while hanging on the Cross ??
OMG...They do walk among us...
Well guess I'm gonna give up partially on the syrup thing...Wife said she ate Kayro and Corn syrup on pancakes and waffles, when she was a kid..
I've had many Flavored and distilled types of syrups over the years...IHOPs and other Pancake houses used to serve different varieties....
But still like Maple or Partial Maple(cheaper) on my cakes....Molasses is a little rich.
Others I am sure, have their taste too...
But Maple is hardly bland....IMO.
Give me cane sugar syrup, black strap molasses, or Grandma's Molasses added to any thin generic syrup. Anything but that runny bland maple syrup for this southerner. Let the Yankee's keep their maple syrup.
Make your own simple syrup...google for the recipe. Use pure CANE sugar & add any flavor you want. Serve it warm/hot over your pancakes, waffles & french toast.
YUMMMMM! I like mine flavored strawberry! You can even add fresh/frozen fruit ...smash it a bit before pouring the hot syrup over it. Refrigerate & use fairly quickly as it will crystallize.
But LOTS better than the stuff sold in grocery stores!
Blue Ribbon or Steen's cane syrup. Hot biscuits w/butter, not margarine. Your mouth will have an orgasm. Really.
Not to change the subject off of syrup, but Mayhaw jelly works for the orgasm in the mouth also.
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