The maple syrup cartel drains half of its inventory to make sure your pancakes are covered

Fear not, pancake lovers. The maple syrup OPEC plans to tap into its stocks of sticky products to cover a shortfall in the breakfast staple.

The organization, Les Producteurs acéricoles du Québec, said it was draining nearly 50 million pounds of syrup from the barrels of its strategic reserve, about half of its inventory and the most since 2008. The amount released equates to more a third of this year’s harvest. in the French-speaking Canadian province, the world’s leading supplier. Production has plunged 24% this year after a warmer and shorter spring harvest as overseas demand soared, according to the group.

“We need to produce more maple syrup,” spokesperson Hélène Normandin said in a telephone interview. “The reserve is there to make sure that we are still able to sell and offer this product. “

Quebec represents more than 70% of the world production of maple syrup and its supply is governed by a sort of cartel sanctioned by the government. Quebec maple syrup producers set wholesale prices, cap production, and send unsold goods to a warehouse in Laurierville, Quebec, allowing the agency a level of market control rivaling the grip of the Organization of petroleum exporting countries on petroleum markets.

“The pandemic has helped in our case because we are seeing people cooking more at home and using more local produce,” Normandin said. “It’s not just in Quebec that demand is increasing.

Export sales reached 113.5 million pounds between January and September, a jump of 21% from the previous year. Next year, the group plans to allow Quebec producers to add 7 million syrup taps to meet growing demand.

The production lead time for maple syrup is short and the “sugar season” is usually between late February and late April, as tree sap can only flow when daytime temperatures alternate between frost and frost. thaw. Warm temperatures across Quebec have shortened the harvest season this year.

The production problems arise even after the agency decided to increase the number of tree taps to suppress black market sales and maintain market share. Quebec farmers have expressed frustration with production limits in recent years as American producers seek to increase production. U.S. production of maple syrup fell 17% this year to 3.42 million gallons while the number of taps increased 2% from the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture .

The reserve, which was the scene of a notorious burglary discovered in 2012, has not been exploited for three years thanks to consecutive bumper crops.

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