You thought this spring was a little weird, weather-wise? Well, Quebec Maple Syrup Producers think it was just dandy, thank you. They’re reporting a record harvest. While I congratulate them on their productivity, I still have some major bones to pick about their marketing and business practices…
A statement by the industry’s trade organization reports that, “13,700 producers harvested a record 152.2 million pounds of maple syrup from 44.2 million taps.” That’s quite a feat…
What does 152 million pounds of Maple Syrup look like?
• 308,000 barrels of Maple Syrup
• 24 Olympic-size swimming pools of Maple Syrup
• 92 million cans of Maple Syrup
• $410 million in income for Quebec Maple Syrup producers
So, we can expect a drop in Maple Syrup prices?
Last year was a record year for production, too, and you’d think that would result in a surplus of Maple goodness in the marketplace. And, with a surplus, you’d think we’d see a reduction in the price of syrup, as a result of ‘supply and demand’. But no!
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 Federation of Quebec Maple Producers (FPAQ) holds the power to regulate production and sales.
In fact, opponents say the FPAQ had, as of last summer, 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. Those surplus and duty figures will be even higher, now, as a result of this year’s bumper crop.
The FPAQ has this power because it rigidly enforces its hold on producers. And it clamps down heavily on producers who try to operate outside its grip.
Maple Syrup is a great source of healthy sweetness. It’s a natural product and it’s many times sweeter than White Sugar, so you need much less to sweeten your Beverages, Baking and other dishes.
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 syrup as they want and sell it at whatever price supply and demand determines.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this issue, no only for Canadians but for the world.
~ Maggie J.