Depending on the year, [Quebec] can produce more than three-quarters of the world’s supply. And its marketing organization appears to have taken some tips from the producers of another valuable liquid commodity when it comes to exploiting market dominance.
“It’s like OPEC,” said Simon Trépanier, acting general manager of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “We’re not producing all the maple syrup in the world. But by producing 70 to 78 percent, we have the ability to adjust the quantity that is in the marketplace.”
Since 1999, Quebec’s maple syrup industry has used a marketing system found in other Canadian agricultural sectors, particularly dairy and poultry.
Put simply, the supply management system sets strict quotas for producers and, in the case of maple syrup, requires them to sell their product through the federation.
The sap that becomes maple syrup after being boiled down often flows for only a short period each spring. Weather changes can introduce wild fluctuations in how much emerges from sugar maple trees.
To maintain stable and high prices, the federation stockpiles every drop its members produce beyond their quota. During bad seasons, it dips into that supply.
*And no, high fructose corn syrup is not a substitute.