You know things are bad when Canada has to tap into its strategic reserve of maple syrup to combat a shortage.
NPR reported that Canada’s Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) announced it was releasing around 50 million pounds of maple syrup from its strategic reserves, which amounts to about half of its stockpile. QSMP is comprised of more than 11,000 Canadian maple syrup producers.
Quebec produces nearly 70% of the world’s maple syrup, with the US being its biggest client for the sweet stuff. However, this year producers weren’t able to keep up with worldwide demand, which jumped 21%, according to Bloomberg.
Maple syrup is made from the sap from maple trees, which is traditionally harvested by installing a metal tap into the tree’s trunk. Modern sap harvesting typically involves a system of plastic tubing and vacuums to collect the sap from multiple trees to a central location where it can be refined into syrup.
This is a seasonal process though, as maple sap can only be harvested in specific weather conditions. So, this year’s short and warm Spring resulted in an uncharacteristically low yield for producers.
Helene Normandin, QMSP’s communications director, told the outlet that the potential for unpredictable seasons is why they have a reserve.
“That’s why the reserve is made, to never miss maple syrup. And we won’t miss maple syrup!” she told the outlet.
She added that the QMSP were planning for the future.
“What we can figure at this moment is maybe the season here in Quebec will start a bit earlier in February, instead of March, and end earlier also,” she told NPR.
The New York Post reported that the QMSP had to tap into its strategic reserves, but it is the largest release from the stockpile in a single season since 2008.
“Export sales reportedly rose to 113.5 million pounds between January and September of 2021 — up a whopping 21 percent from a year earlier, as people turned to the sugary topping to sweeten home-cooked meals during the pandemic,” the Post reported.
While tapping the stockpile has been done before – though not often to this extent – the last time the strategic maple syrup reserve made headlines was in 2012, when a Canadian man organized a heist of $18.7 million worth of syrup. The man, Richard Vallières, was fined $9.4 million and sentenced in 2017 to eight years in prison, plus an additional six years if he fails to pay the fine, Time reported.
“The 2012 theft involved taking 3,000 tons of maple syrup from a warehouse that belonged to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, which regulates the syrup trade,” the outlet reported. “Officials realized the maple syrup was missing in July 2012 when they found dozens of barrels filled with water instead of syrup. Twenty-six people were arrested in an investigation into the missing syrup.”
“Vallières was found guilty of theft, fraud and trafficking stolen goods,” the outlet added.