Canada is releasing nearly half of its strategic stockpile of maple syrup as it faces soaring demand from a pandemic home cooking boom and a poor harvest from bad weather.
The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, a government-sponsored cartel representing 11,000 producers responsible for 73 per cent of the global supply, said more than 22,000 tonnes of syrup would be released.
It represents the biggest release of syrup in 13 years. It comes after a move by the US government to release oil to global markets to ease gummed up supply chains.
Helene Normandin, spokesman for the cartel, told National Public Radio in the US that the reserve was in place to make sure that the syrup was always available.
Drastic action has been taken because production has fallen by nearly a quarter this year, thanks to a shorter and warmer spring.
“This year’s production was lower overall, and it really was a combination of Mother Nature being uncooperative as far as a good season and the good news about maple syrup’s health benefits,” said Kevin McCormick, a Nova Scotia-based producer.
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36 per cent surge in demand
Maple trees, which have to be at least 30 years old to be tapped, need cold nights and warm days for the syrup to flow easily. At the same time demand for syrup, a staple on many north American breakfast tables, increased by 36 per cent this year.
The surge in demand is thought to have been driven by the pandemic, which has seen more people cook at home.
Maple has also become increasingly popular in the use of cosmetics, such as anti-ageing creams.
The federation, which has been compared to OPEC, has had to tackle threats to production before.
In 2012 its warehouse was raided by a gang that escaped with 9,600 barrels of syrup, worth $30million. Two-thirds was later recovered.
The maple syrup crisis may worsen, thanks to global warming, according to one expert.
New England, to the south of Canada, is also a major manufacturer of maple syrup but Howard Neufeld, a biologist at Appalachian State University, said climate change was having an impact on sugar maple trees.
“Because of warming in New England, sugar maples will shift north to find cooler temperatures. Instead of Vermont maple syrup, we might have to think of Toronto maple syrup.”
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