Is Maple Syrup Production responsible for one of the biggest Agricultural Crimes of All Times?
With a value of almost $1,300 a barrel, maple syrup has become 26 times more expensive than oil.
The FPAQ—the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers—is the Canadian group that controls 72 percent of the world’s supply. With their system of quotes and supply controls, Rich Cohen, journalist for Vanity Fair, compares FPAQ to the OPEC (the international association of oil producing countries) and blames it for one of the greatest agricultural crimes in all of history.
Today, the price for a small jug of genuine canadian maple syrup may cost around $15 in a supermarket. A "fake" alternative, like Aunt Jemima (gh-fructose corn syrup) is much cheaper.
According to the Vanity Fair research, the cause for such a raise in the price of maple syrup is the system of quotas imposed by the FPAQ, which somehow acts like a monopoly. High prices have made the maple syrup an attractive business, so it led to increase in production. With oil, it’s the deep deposits reached only by fracking. With syrup, it’s forests in Vermont, New Hampshire, and especially New York State, which has three times more maple trees than all of Quebec’s maple farms combined, says Rich Cohen.
But FPAQ controls the supply, so prices don't lower. This is how it works, according to Vanity Fair:
There are 13,500 maple-syrup producers in Quebec. Each is permitted to send a fixed amount to FPAQ for sale that year, a quota that was established in 2004, even as U.S. production has exploded (up 27 percent from 2015). Members of the federation give their harvest over to FPAQ, which inspects, tastes, and grades the syrup. Some of it is sold immediately; the rest is stored in the Reserve. Producers are paid only when the syrup is sold, which can mean years. FPAQ keeps $54 for each barrel, a kind of tax that pays for the advertising, the testing of the recipes, the upkeep of the Reserve, and so on. In this way, the federation steadies supply, filling the coffers in banner years, satisfying demand in fallow. In this way, the price of syrup is stabilized, benefiting even the competitors across the border.
Read the full story about how Maple Syrup market works in Vanity Fair.