Canada opens taps on maple syrup reserves to keep liquid gold flowing

At the start of 2021, Quebec Maple Syrup Producers had syrup reserves of 45 million kilograms

A maple syrup farmer taps a tree by headlamp. AP

Canada is tapping into its maple syrup reserves amid a spike in demand.

The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) organisation said in a statement on Tuesday that it is releasing about 22 million kilograms of syrup to keep pancake-eaters the world over content.

The organisation said that demand for maple syrup has surged during the pandemic. The problem: warm weather last spring brought the tapping season to an abrupt end.

“The maple industry is healthy. The pandemic generated a certain desire for local products and consumers are responding to promotional efforts as well,” said Serge Beaulieu, president of QMSP.

“While this has resulted in a decrease in the stockpile, there is no cause for concern.”

Maple syrup is big business in Canada and closely entwined with the country’s cultural identity, with the maple leaf featured on the nation's flag. The syrup accounts for about $1 billion of the country’s gross domestic product.

Quebec produces more than 70 per cent of the world’s maple syrup. In 2021, some 85 million kilograms of syrup were produced globally, with 60 million kilograms coming from trees in Quebec.

And the industry is more than prepared for any sticky situations.

The QMSP operates in much the same way as the Organisation of Petroleum Producing Countries (Opec): it regulates the price of syrup and creates stockpiles of the “liquid gold”.

Deep in central Quebec, the QMSP has a sprawling 25,000-square-metre storage site, filled with barrel after barrel of maple syrup. That is the equivalent of five football pitches of the amber-coloured substance and it allows the industry to meet demand regardless of seasonal yields.

This is not the first time the reserve has made headlines.

Between 2011 and 2012, 2,700 tonnes of maple syrup were stolen from the reserve. The thieves, who were eventually caught and prosecuted, walked away with $14.6m in syrup.

Updated: December 1st 2021, 6:17 PM