RANDOLPH, Vt.—The maple industry is mostly thriving but some challenges lie ahead.
That was the message from a panel of industry experts during the VMSMA & UVM Extension winter conference last month.
“I’m always optimistic but it seems we are at a bit of a crossroads,” said Arnold Coombs of Coombs Family Maple and the primary sales agent for Bascom Maple Farms.
Coombs said retail grocery stores are not happy with syrup price increases, as inflation catches up with the industry overall.
On the production side, the trees and sap production are thriving.
“The maple industry is in a really healthy position,” said Dr. Tim Perkins of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center. “We're doing quite well and learning more and more each year.” [ MORE ]
ALSTEAD, N.H.—A large carryover of last year’s massive crop is expected as producers gear up for—and in some cases, begin—the 2023 season.
Bruce Bascom of Bascom Maple Farms said he would likely have enough carryover syrup from 2022 to last until at least April of this year.
Sales at the retail level have tapered off, he said.
“This year the crop was a lot bigger than you think, it’s probably 70 or 75 million pounds,” he said.
Bascom said there is at least 35 million pounds of drum syrup in the field, which is up by more than 100 percent over 2021.
“It's more than doubled,” he told The Maple News. [ MORE ]
LACROSSE, Wisc.—Industry leaders and experts had an upbeat message on the state of maple going into 2023.
“Markets are expanding and more syrup is being made than ever before,” said Matthew Bascom of Bascom Maple Farms during a panel discussion on the future of maple at the North American Maple Syrup Council annual meeting in LaCrosse, Wisc.
The panel featured Bascom, Wisconsin bulk buyer Steve Anderson, NAMSC president Howard Boyden, New York maple association director Helen Thomas and IMSI president Pam Green.
One of the big topics of discussion was pricing, on the minds of many sugarmakers who are dealing with rampant inflation in production input costs.
Overall the consensus was yes, sugarmakers should raise prices of syrup.
“It doesn’t make much sense to sell syrup at a loss,” Bascom said. “So if you need to go up, go up. We’ve got to farm the bottom line.”
Thomas said in New York, many sugarmakers are raising retail prices for syrup. [ MORE ]
ANTIGONISH, N.S.—Jason Haverkort has weathered quite a few storms during his years as a veteran Nova Scotia sugarmaker.
Nothing compares to the devastating fury wrought by Hurricane Fiona that slammed eastern Canada, leaving behind a nearly $1.5 billion path of destruction in its wake.
The tempest, packing more than 110 mph winds, hit during the late-night hours of Friday, September 23. Those who could sleep, awoke to unimaginable damage the next day.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine such devastation,” said Haverkort, owner of Haveracres Maple Farm in northeast Nova Scotia.
“I have areas of complete write off, only a few twigs left standing. Most areas suffered a 50 percent or greater loss of tappable trees. We’re estimating 6,000 of our 12,000 trees to be blown down. The wind seemed to funnel up the valleys and flattened trees in its path. Some of the trees left standing are in rough shape also, many with broken branches.”
His sugarhouse somehow escaped unscathed, but trees came down all over his pipeline system, which has to be cut and spliced in many places. “I have been on a pipeline replacement schedule for a few years, but now it should all be replaced ,” he said.
Haverkort plans to tap whatever healthy trees are left, but expects more than a 50 percent loss of income from Fiona. “I couldn’t survive a year with no income,” he said.
But for some maple operations, there is no future. [ MORE ]
SOMERSET, Pa.—Turner’s Dairy in Western Pennsylvania is featuring a limited edition Maple Milk, made with real maple syrup from Emerick’s Maple in Somerset, Pa.
Turner’s partners with local independent farmers to bring the best tasting products to the community.
The company releases limited edition, flavored milks throughout the year.
The Maple Milk is being sold in quarts and pints.
"The official release was on October 10, and we expect to run out sometime during the week of November 14," said Turner's spokeswoman Adriana Mazzotta. [ MORE ]
BURTON, Ohio—Maple grading and maple quality have become major topics at just about every maple syrup meeting.
Why has this topic taken on a new sense of importance? What is driving this interest?
As the popularity of maple syrup products continues to grow, we are introducing more new customers to pure maple syrup.
As interest grows, so does the number of questions about content, grading and nutritional value.
Consumers ask! What is the difference between pure maple syrup and table syrup? Is this a superior product to table syrup and is it worth the price they are paying for it?
In most stores you find maple syrup right above the pancake flour.
The shelf space is minimal and is often shared with Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworths, and other corn syrup derivatives. [ MORE ]
TURNERS FALLS, Mass.—The new company that recently bought out Sugarhill Containers is promising to dramatically speed up lead times for sugarmakers to get delivery of plastic molded jugs with custom printing.
“We’re working very hard to aggressively address the backlog,” said Sean R. Fallmann, President and CEO of Atlanta-based Altium Packaging, which in August bought out Plastic Industries, the parent company of Sugarhill.
Fallmann told The Maple News on Tuesday that his company hopes to return to an eight to 12 week lead time for sugarmakers to place an order and receive delivery of screen printed jugs, a longtime favorite container for producers.
"That is our goal and we want to get back to that as quickly as possible," Fallmann said. [ MORE ]
UNDERHILL, Vt.—More love for red maple.
Sugarmakers are flocking to new research from the University of Vermont that shows red maples produce nearly the same amount of sap and sugar as its cousin the sugar maple.
“There is really no difference between what the reds and the sugars are doing of the course of a season,” said Dr. Abby van den Berg of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center. She gave a presentation on reds at Bascom Maple Farms open house recently.
Van den Berg conducted her study on reds in 2020 and 2021 and this past season conducted further research by segregating sap from the two species and boiling it side by side in two evaporators. [ MORE ]