Canadian maple syrup producers are tapping the country’s emergency reserve of the sticky sweet stuff as it looks to meet demand amid a global shortage.
The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers — a group known as the world’s maple syrup cartel and sometimes compared to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries grip on oil — announced this week that it’s pulling some 50 million pounds of syrup from its strategic reserve.
That’s the most the group has released from the reserve in a single season since 2008 and amounts to about half of the entire stockpile.
Helene Normandin, spokeswoman for the group, which sets bulk syrup prices, caps production and controls the stockpile, said producers weren’t able to make enough syrup this year due to a warmer and shorter spring than expected.
“That’s why the reserve is made, to never miss maple syrup. And we won’t miss maple syrup!” she told NPR.
The French-speaking Canadian province produces more than 70 percent of the world’s maple syrup supply.
Normandin told Bloomberg that demand for maple syrup surged during the pandemic as people cooked more at home.
Export sales reportedly rose to 113.5 million pounds between January and September — up a whopping 21 percent from a year earlier.
At the same time, the consortium of maple syrup producers in Quebec saw production fall by 24 percent due to the uncharacteristically short and warm spring season.
The strange weather hit maple syrup production particularly hard because tree sap is only able to be harvested during a short window when the temperature alternates between freezing and thawing.
It’s not the first time Quebec Maple Syrup Producers’ strategic reserve has made headlines.
In 2012, thieves made off with more than 3,000 tons of maple syrup — worth some $19 million Canadian dollars — from the stockpile. The syrup was quietly syphoned off from the reserve over the course of months.