March 1, 2009

Maple syrup supply down, price up

Quebec produces 75 percent of the world's maple syrup, but a shortage has driven prices up more than 50 percent in Montreal, industry analysts said.

Quebec maintains maple syrup reserves, but even the reserve supply has dissipated, causing the price of a standard 540-milliliter can to hit $10 in and around Montreal -- up from $6.50 for most of the past eight or nine years, The Montreal Gazette reported Sunday.

The development follows poor sap harvests in 2007 and 2008 due to colder than normal spring conditions. The sap is due to flow soon -- perhaps as early as next week, the newspaper said -- and producers hope to rebound from the past two sub-par season.

Meantime, industry analysts said, there is a chance consumers will opt for less expensive imitation syrup.

Maple-syrup production in Quebec is conducted under the supervision of the Federation des producteurs acericoles du Quebec, and producers are restricted to quota allotments. Some small syrup producers are not covered by the quota regulations but participation is required for producers who intend to sell product to wholesalers -- which represents about 80 percent of maple syrup sales, the newspaper said.

The Gazette said 350 new producers have joined about 7,600 existing syrup producers this year, and quotas have been expanded.