The Canadian Global Maple Syrup Reserve

Samuel Reason - December 15th, 2019

Much like how the United States of America has a strategic reserve of gasoline and grains, Canada is noted to have a global maple syrup reserve. In the tiny town of Laurierville, situated in the region of Quebec, you will find a furniture warehouse that has been renovated and given a new purpose: save the world from maple syrup starvation.

The warehouse contains over half of the world’s supply of maple syrup, and the strategic reserve is intended to stabilize the price of maple syrup and also supply key parts of its growing global market. In fact, every commercial maple syrup producer is required by law in Quebec to deliver a part of their produce to the reserve every single year.

This is because more than 70% of the world’s total supply of maple syrup is produced in Quebec, a Canadian province. The federation of producers keeps a tight quota system, which you can compare to a legal cartel that was set up around 16 years ago. Anyone who wishes to sell syrup in bulk needs to check in with the federation first and buy a license. The license authorizes a certain amount of trees that they can tap each year, not only that they can only sell their crop of syrup to an approved group of sellers.

So you could say that a reserve is a noble act of ensuring the world will never suffer a dip in the supply of maple syrup, that no pancake will ever go without syrup. However, when you look into the details you can see it is more about controlling the supply and demand of the syrup in a way that will keep the price high. At the end of the day, the whole economy of the Quebec province is fueled by their maple syrup industry, so they do anything to keep it profitable.

Many of the producers do not like these restrictions because the barrels of syrup they send to the reserve are not paid for until they sell, which sometimes takes several years to happen. Yet some producers like the arrangement and feel it is necessary to protect their business operations. Those found operating outside of the regulations are known as maple syrup pirates and if caught will face up to thousands of dollars in fines.

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