Tapping into Trouble: The State of the World's Maple Syrup Reserve

Check out this in-depth article on maple syrup supply...

High consumer demand coupled with a slow production winter season in 2023 has left the world’s pure maple syrup reserve at a 16-year low. That reserve is operated in Quebec. Canada produces 91% of the world’s supply of this sweet all-natural resource and 65% of that supply comes from Quebec.

The reserve is designed to hold 133 million pounds of syrup, according to the BBC, but by the end of 2023, it had dropped to 6.9 million pounds. Canadian producers rely on the reserve to smooth out demand and prices.

Almost all of the remaining world production comes from the U.S., and generally, half of the U.S. production comes from Vermont (Quebec’s neighbor to the South across the border). Both Vermont and Quebec had low production volumes in 2023 due to weather conditions unsuited for getting the sap flowing. Sap flow is predicated on specific conditions: nights below freezing and days above that threshold.

Northeast states dominate U.S. production with Maine and New York states following Vermont. Wisconsin’s production ranks fourth and Michigan’s fifth.

Demand has grown over the last few years. However, it is expected to level off, according to Farm Credit East: “Meanwhile, market sources indicate a softening of growth rates in 2023. The period of Covid-related market growth has ended. An extended period of inflation has increased the cost of living across the U.S. and consumers are becoming more cost-conscious with food shopping. While the maple industry has many loyal pure-maple consumers, it becomes more difficult to recruit new users and wholesale buyers to the high quality and high-cost maple sweetener.”

(Most large consumer market brands are made from corn syrup, not pure maple sap.)

Meanwhile, pure maple syrup supplies are projected to be adequate despite the dramatic drop in reserves.

"The strategic reserve is holding its lowest amount of maple syrup since 2008," Simon Doré-Ouellet, the deputy director general of the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, told the BBC. "But we do not foresee any supply issues in the near future."

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