28 February 2014

More turmoil in the maple syrup industry

As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
As production of maple syrup soars, the industry's big trade group is pushing a dozen states and four Canadian provinces that make up the North American maple belt to adopt one uniform grading standard. The International Maple Syrup Institute thinks the booming commodity can be better marketed world-wide without confusing consumers. But while many maple-producers are eager to spread the idea, scores of others are waffling over going to one international standard, fearing a loss of their quirky, homespun image...

Sugarmakers, as industry professionals call themselves, fear that sharing label descriptions with New York, Maine, Quebec and elsewhere will dilute the cachet of Vermont-made syrup...

Vermont, which puts maple syrup on a pedestal along with cheese and covered bridges, has long had its own distinctive syrup-grading system: Grade A Fancy Light Amber, followed by Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B, so-called, locals say, not because it is lower in quality but for its more intense maple flavor, which appeals to many tourists. But after a series of community "maple meetings," the state adopted new standards. By next year, all retail syrup in Vermont will be labeled "Grade A" because the trade group believes that consumers assume anything lower on the alphabet is inferior...

Light-colored syrup, for instance, is called "Fancy Grade" in Vermont, "Light Amber" in New York, and "No. 1 Extra Light" in Canada—a pattern seen in multiple categories. Market research showed consumers felt flummoxed, he said. For instance, "people were confusing light with fat-free and no calories, and well, we know maple syrup has calories," he said...

In Wisconsin, where the grading proposal is under discussion, syrup-maker Katrina Becker of Stoney Acres Farm said some producers fear their industry could become Big Maple. One standard is the first step to price controls, more regulation and speculative maple-syrup trading, she predicted.


  1. If they waffle too long, the whole thing might pancake. :D

  2. a sticky situation

  3. gah.

    USE ta be grade b syrup was cheaper, too, because we had people from away convinced it wasn't as good as fancy.

    who uses fancy, anyway? it's practically maple water.

    and yes, we're fussy here in vermont. couple of seasons ago some guy got busted behind selling something not real maple as "vermont maple" and he ended up doing time. the state lab will happily test samples of suspect maple and the AG will prosecute fraud.

  4. Bad news. I prefer "Grade B" when I can find it.


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