LONGUEUIL, Que.—Quebec producers will be adding seven million new taps into their quota system by 2023, dramatically increasing an announced expansion from last month.
“We’re not trying to one-up anybody, we’re looking at it as a business,” said David Hall, a 25,000-tap producer from Cowansville, Que. and a director for the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers federation.
The federation had announced in June a three million tap expansion of its government sanctioned quota system.
But since then the federation hired an actuary to study its current syrup holdings against the marketplace and determined that by December the federation’s warehouses could drain to critically low levels, prompting the release of four million more taps.
Hall said that since the end of the 2021 season, U.S. bulk buyers have stepped up to buy 50 million pounds out of the federation's Global Strategic Reserve, which stockpiles surplus syrup from season to season.
By the end of the year, there could be only 40 million pounds left in the reserve of table grade syrup, Hall said.
That would put the industry in a precarious position if 2022 was another short crop.
The volume in the strategic reserve of certified organic syrup has dropped to near zero.
The 2021 crop was the smallest in nine years in both the U.S. and Canada, forcing many marketers to scramble to find syrup to keep retail accounts happy. At the same time, consumer demand for maple products has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
The expansion in Quebec equals to roughly half of the total taps in the United States. By far, the U.S. market is where most Quebec syrup is sold, but Hall said other foreign markets are emerging.
Since 2003, QMSP has given the green light to a total of 17 million new taps for its members through four start-up and expansion programs—in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2016.
The new taps will bring the total in the province to 54 million.
Current and prospective producers should begin preparations now, specifically by conducting forest inventories and GPS mapping of the areas they have targeted for development, the federation said.
The federation said new taps could start being added by December and would continue through February of 2023.