TEMPLE, N.H.—Sugarmakers are raising farm prices in direct-to-consumer sales.
It is following a trend for just about every consumer staple in the marketplace, from airline tickets to chicken cutlets.
“We upped our price in our gift shop to $75 a gallon,” said Ben Fisk of Fisk’s Maple Syrup in Temple, N.H. during the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association last month. “We’ll see if it sells. It’s inflation.”
Fisk had been selling a gallon for $60.
At the same meeting, sugarmaker Charlie Hunt of Hunt’s Maple Syrup in Hillsborough, N.H. said he was going to raise his quart prices to $20 as soon as he got home. He was at $17.
In Cohasset, Minn., Ralph and Amy Fideldy were raising their prices too. $19 for a quart and $65 for a gallon.
“We were at $18 a quart and $64 a gallon. We brought it up one dollar. The cost of glass is rising. Along with the cost of plastic bottles,” Fideldy told The Maple News.
Rachel Taylor of Frostmore Farm in Dunmore, W.V. was raising her syrup prices too for the same reasons.
“The price of our jars went up 40 percent,” she said. “We had to.”
All of the marketplace shuffling is happening in light of one of the shortest crops in a decade.
In some big production areas, the crop was down as much as 35 percent from last year.
At the same time, the pace of syrup sales on the consumer side, both at the grocery and the sugarhouse is at what most say is an all time high.
Mark Cannella, the maple business specialist for the University of Vermont Extension Service in Morrisville, Vt. says sugarmakers should all be raising their prices to cover costs and remain profitable.
“They should’ve raised their prices 10 years ago,” Cannella said.
Cannella said if sugarmakers were to truly analyze their costs syrup would run up to $90 per gallon equivalent.
But pricing decisions should be considered on how the business will sell its entire crop across different package sizes.
Cannella says it is important for sugarmakers to know their costs to establish an informed pricing strategy.
“How are you differentiating your product or service elements. Are you selling highest quality syrup flavor or are you more likely to sell the ‘story’ of your family enterprise or forest stewardship?” he said.
It’s a balancing act to recover your full cost of production and continue to deliver consistent value to customers, Cannella said.