Quebec Maple Syrup producers are fighting what they call an oppressive monopoly – their own marketing and promotion association, the Federation of Quebec Maple Producers (FPAQ), If that sounds odd to you, read on and then decide for yourself whether the FPAQ should be abolished…
The Province of Quebec produces 72 per cent of the Maple Syrup and Sugar sold round the world every year, It’s a (US)$400 million industry and one authority, the FPAQ. holds the power to regulate production and sales. Now, some members of the group say they want out from under the Federation’s restrictive and unfair marketing rules and at least one influential Federal MP agrees with them.
Maxime Bernier, a federal Member of Parliament from Quebec and a contender for the leadership of Canada’s opposition Conservative party, says the FPAQ is nothing more than a cartel, a private monopoly on Maple Products that controls prices and production unfairly – to both producers and consumers. Bernier wants it abolished, freeing producers to make as much as they want and sell it at whatever price supply and demand determines.
Would prices be lower and Maple Products more plentiful in stores? Of course. In fact, opponents say the FPAQ has withheld some 67 million pounds / 30.5 million kg of Syrup in a secret warehouse in Quebec to artificially prop up prices by restricting supply. That’s almost half an average year’s production for all of Quebec. Producers pay a certain price per pound duty to the FPAQ.
Cases in point
One Maple Producer, Robert Hodge from Bury, PQ, says he had 20,400 pounds of Maple Syrup ‘confiscated’, by private security personnel hired by FPAQ, from his farm last year after he tried to sell it outside the FPAQ’s rules. And he says private security personnel have been spying on him for several years. He said he wanted out and FPAQ said, ‘sure!’ but he’d have to pay them an exit fee of(C)$278,000 for the privilege.
Another Quebec producer, grandmother Angel Grenier of Sainte-Clotilde-de-Beauce, says the FPAQ is demanding (C)$400,000 from her for selling her Syrup to Nova Scotia and PEI distributors outside the FPAQ umbrella. She’s set up a crowdfunding site to raise money for a court challenge. She figures she’ll need (C)$50,000 to fight the FPAQ.
The bottom line
We’ve always been told that Maple Syrup is expensive because it’s prey to the seasonal vagaries of the weather from year to year, making supply uncertain, and rising costs of production, not the least component of which is energy. But it appears that the FPAQ has been rigging the market and fixing prices. It’s good for producers, I guess – except the ones who want the freedom to make and sell Maple Products on their own terms. And it’s patently unfair to consumers around the world who deserve a taste of Canada’s National Sweet Treat at a reasonable price.
I despise the very notion of monopolies. Monopolies are why we have the highest Cell Phone rates in the world. Monopolies are why we have the highest Cable TV service rates. Marketing Boards = another word for monopolies – which control production and prices of agricultural products are one reason food costs are so high in Canada. They keep big farmers in business, but they subject consumers to hardship. Now, to hear that even maple Products are in the iron grip of a monopoly is not only saddening but downright exasperating. Perhaps Maple Products consumers and Beef Consumers and Milk consumers should form cartels to stand up to the Producer cartels and thereby find a happy, fair medium for production levels and prices.
What do you think?
~ Maggie J.