This headline is not from The Onion. I spent about 20 minutes researching this. In much the same way that the United States has Strategic Petroleum Reserves, Canada, our funny neighbors to the North, maintains a Strategic Maple Syrup Reserves. Why you may ask?
But harvesting maple is a fickle business, and that makes expanding the industry tricky. The trees need cold nights and mildly warm days to yield sap, meaning production can vary greatly year to year based on the weather. That’s a potential problem for the big syrup buyers, whether they’re bottlers or large food companies that make cookies or cereal. Quaker can’t pour a bunch of time and money into developing a maple-and-brown-sugar-flavored version of Life, only to find out it won’t be able to get enough of its ingredients, or that they’ll have to pay through the nose for each liter of syrup.
“If you are trying to develop a market for something, you don’t want to create a demand and not be able to supply it,” Farrell said.
The reserve makes sure there’s always enough syrup for the market. As Farrell explained, each producer sells its harvest in bulk to the federation — a government-sanctioned cooperative — which turns around and deals it to bulk buyers. When production is high, the federation siphons a portion off to store in steel drums for future use.
These reserves are so valuable it seems, that some sticky cabal siphoned (literally) $30 million of maple syrup from the reserves. A sweet crime it was.
Maple syrup burglars left behind only empty barrels and questions after pilfering from Quebec’s maple syrup reserves last week.
The heist was discovered during a routine inventory check at the St-Louis-de-Blandford warehouse, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers’ temporary storage facility for 10 million pounds of Canada’s sweetest export.
Worth $30 million, there was enough maple syrup in the warehouse to fill one and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools, or about 3.75 million litres, federation director Anne-Marie Granger Godbout said.
That would fill about 7.5 million bottles on grocery store shelves.
Evidently, the thieves broke through locks and a fence into the industrial location and siphoned the sappy substance into their own barrels.
I promise you, this is a serious story.
The Sureté du Québec continues to investigate a week later, but there are few answers, Sgt. Ronald McInnis said.
He couldn’t confirm exactly how much syrup was stolen, although he said it was a “large quantity.”
The federation, which is responsible for the “global strategic maple syrup reserve,” fears the sticky-fingered burglars intend to sell the syrup on the black market.
“The marketing of the stolen maple syrup will affect the entire maple industry,” according to the federation’s news release. “It is crucial to identify those responsible for this crime.”
My first thought was of Homer Simpson, who pilfered an entire truck carrying sugar and built mountains of sugar in his back yard.
The story suggests that it may have been an inside job!
The thieves made off with the goods just in time — the federation planned to move the syrup to a new storage facility over the next few weeks.
Quebec produces 70 to 80 per cent of the world’s maple syrup, a volume that is critically important because of America’s “catastrophic” low harvest this year. About 75 per cent of Quebec’s maple syrup is exported to the U.S., Granger Godbout said.
Said one expert:
“It’s got to be an inside job,” he said. “What do you do with that much syrup? You have to be in the industry.”
This isn’t the first time maple syrup has gone missing, McInnis said. A few years ago a similar theft happened near Quebec City.