In American supermarkets and not only at this moment there would be no maple syrup, if there were not a Canadian national reserve in Laurierville, Québec. The producer organization that controls it, Producteurs et productrices acéricoles du Québec (PPAQ), told Bloomberg which will bring about half of the spare maple syrup onto the market, about 16 million liters, to meet demand. That’s more than a third of this year’s production.
Canada is the world’s leading producer of maple syrup, the sweetening liquid used especially in North America for many sweet preparations, starting with pancakes. More than 70 percent of global production comes from the Canadian French-speaking region of Québec. Between 2020 and 2021, production fell by 24 percent and at the same time demand from abroad increased: between January and September, exports grew by 21 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. The main importing country is the United States, which purchases about 60 percent of Canada’s maple syrup.
The syrup is obtained by boiling the sap of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and black maple (black maple sugar). The liquid flows drop by drop from some cannulas inserted in the trunk, in the past directly inside buckets, while now it is collected with more complex systems. To produce a liter of syrup, about 40 liters of sap are needed.
Getting the syrup is not easy and from one year to the next the production can vary considerably, because it depends a lot on the climatic conditions. The sap is collected in early spring, between the end of February and the end of April, because it only flows when the change in temperature between the night and the hours of light is such that it freezes and then melts. If a spring is particularly mild in Québec, like this year, the production season is shorter.
To cope with production drops, the national syrup reserve was established in 2000, which ensures that it is always available on the market: each producer sells his own to the producers’ organization, which sells it in bulk, and in times of abundance, a share is set aside for the future.
The reserve is used by the PPAQ, which is effectively a kind of cartel supported by the Canadian government, to control prices and regulate production. In the last three years there has never been a need to rely on stocks and it has been since 2008 that not so much syrup was taken away. For next year, given the increase in demand and to counteract the black market for maple syrup, the PPAQ will allow producers to increase the number of trees from which it is made.
Canada’s maple syrup reserve had already been mentioned in international newspapers in 2012, when a thousand-ton theft was discovered over the course of a year.