MONTREAL — Rising international demand for maple syrup and a drop in production last year have created a global shortage — but Quebec's strategic reserve is ready to hold the line.
The organization governing Quebec's maple syrup producers will release onto the market 50 million pounds of maple syrup — worth about $150 million — by February, Hélène Normandin, the group's spokeswoman, said in an interview Monday. The reserve can hold up to 100 million pounds of maple syrup, she added.
"If we didn't have a reserve, we would be in trouble," Normandin, with Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, said. "But the reserve is exactly for this."
Demand for maple syrup this year is outstripping supply, she explained.
Canadian maple syrup exports — most of which come from Quebec — have risen 21 per cent since January 2020, Normandin said, adding that last year's warm winter resulted in the production of about 133 million pounds of syrup, down 40 million pounds compared with the prior year.
"We work with Mother Nature," Normandin said. "We know it's normal that not all production years are the same."
She said a big reason why demand has increased is due to the fact the United States doesn't have its own syrup reserve. "They sold all of their maple syrup produced in 2021, so they are digging into our supply even more," she said.
Normandin said people shouldn't worry because her organization created the strategic reserve specifically to address shortages.
"The reserve was put in place by producers in 2000 to address situations of high demand or low production," Normandin said. "And this year, it won't only be the annual production that will meet the needs, but the fact that we have that reserve."
Quebec produces nearly three-quarters of the global maple syrup supply and exports the product to more than 60 countries. Normandin said that to avoid future shortages, an extra seven million trees over the next three years will be added to the 50 million that are tapped annually in the province.
"Maybe we'll add even more (trees) — there's still some room if everybody starts to consume maple syrup around the world!"
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 29, 2021.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press