Why Canada is opening its maple syrup vault – .

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Why Canada is opening its maple syrup vault – .


Canada’s maple syrup industry has become an international concern in recent days, with headlines calling out that the country has been forced to tap into its strategic reserve to fill shortages.
Quebec produces about 73 percent of all the maple syrup in the world. And the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP), an organization that governs the province’s maple syrup producers, said it would market about 22.7 million kilograms of maple syrup. of its strategic reserve on the market by February.

To some, the headlines may have been a revelation that Canada even has a stockpile of maple syrup. CBC Explain the purpose of this reserve, why it was necessary to draw on it and examine if there has ever been a shortage of maple syrup.

What is the strategic reserve?

The Quebec maple industry is subject to a supply management system, that is, it uses a quota system managed by the PGQD, which dictates the volume of the market. The QMSP also controls the Global Maple Syrup Strategic Reserve, which can hold over 45 million kilograms of maple syrup.

The reserve was created in 2000 to keep syrup in stock and ensure a constant supply for national and international markets, regardless of the size of the harvest, said Hélène Normandin, spokesperson for QMSP, on the program As CBC It Happens.

One site, the Laurierville Factory and Warehouse, in the Center-du-Québec region, covers an area of ​​24,805 square meters, the equivalent of five football fields. This site alone can store 25 million kilograms of maple syrup, or 94,000 barrels.

When properly stored in barrels, maple syrup can last for many years, said Michael Farrell, former director of Uihlein Forest at Cornell University, a syrup research and extension station. maple in Lake Placid, NY

In years when the yield is good and when more syrup is produced than necessary, the surplus can be sold to QMSP and stored “so that when there are bad years you have enough to keep people alive. ‘stock up on syrup on their pancakes,’ Farrell mentioned.

« Without it in reserve [this year], there would be much less syrup on store shelves and the price would be much higher. “

Why did they have to dip into the reserve this year?

In 2021, approximately 60 million kilograms of maple syrup were produced, an average amount from previous years but down 18 million kilograms from 2020.

In this photo, a harvester was tapping a maple tree. The Quebec maple syrup industry is subject to a supply management system, that is, it uses a quota system managed by the PGQQ, which dictates the volume of the market. (SRC)

“It’s been an average season, not bad, but not as big as the last two seasons – 2019 and 2020 were just amazing and wonderful production years,” Normandin said.

However, global demand has increased by more than 20% – a spike according to industry experts was in part fueled by more people cooking at home during the pandemic – and this has strained the supply.

How has the weather affected performance?

Every year is not a perfect year for every agricultural harvest. And it was one of those years that wasn’t ideal in terms of maple syrup production, said Abby van den Berg, associate research professor at the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont at Underhill, in Vermont.

Many places did not have good weather for the sap flow until later in the production season, she said.

For the sap to flow, there must be freezing temperatures, followed by temperatures above freezing, she said.

“There just haven’t been a lot of sap flow days,” Van den Berg said.

Was there really a “shortage” of syrup.

“Canada exploits its maple syrup reserves in times of scarcity”

“Faced with shortages, Canada is drawing on its strategic maple syrup reserve”

It’s headlines like the ones that made Van den Berg bristle, she said.

“We had a year when the harvest was not excellent. In fact, it was not that great. It was not as good as in previous years and the reserve was there to fulfill its function, ”she said. “And there was no disruption of supply. There is no shortage. “

“All the headlines said ‘maple syrup shortage’,” she said. “And literally there is no shortage because of the reserve. “

Jugs of maple syrup line a shelf. In 2021, approximately 60 million kilograms of maple syrup were produced, an average amount from previous years but down 40 million pounds from 2020. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Philippe Charest-Beudry, owner of Brien Maple Sweets in Ste-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, Quebec, which packs and sells bottles of maple syrup, said his company has been able to fulfill all contracts so far this year.

« I have not heard in the industry from other players that we are not in a position to honor the contracts, ”he said.

Has the reserve ever encountered problems with its stock?

Between 2011 and 2012, approximately 3,000 tonnes were stolen from a warehouse in Quebec. But it was a few years earlier that the strategic reserve actually ran out.

“People probably don’t remember it, but in 2008, after two or three consecutive years of poor production, just bad weather, [they] ran out of syrup in the reserve, ”said Mike Farrell

“There was nothing there and there wasn’t enough syrup for everyone. Prices have skyrocketed. We have lost a lot of markets for pure maple syrup, ”he said.

A tree is notched for the maple syrup harvest. Many places didn’t have good weather for sap flow until later in the production season, said Abby van den Berg, associate research professor at the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont at Underhill. , in Vermont. (SRC)

Ray Bonenberg, former president of the International Maple Syrup Institute and producer of maple syrup near Pembroke, Ont., Said 2008 was a “terrible year of production.”

“It was unusually cold until April 1, then it got really hot, and I know my season lasted eight days, so it was disastrous,” he said. “The reserve was to the bottom and built it. “

What does this mean for next year?

Farrell said the 22.7 million kilograms of maple syrup is “a significant amount to pull the reserve this year.” But what does this mean for the reserve’s near future?

There are currently approximately 50 million maple syrup taps in Quebec. In July, the QMSP approved the issuance of seven million new ones to meet demand.

“From our point of view, we believe this should solve the problem in the short term,” Charest-Beudry said. “I don’t see a season next year when there will be no more maple syrup in the grocery store.

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