Amid shortages, Canada is tapping into its strategic reserves. This time, for maple syrup.
The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, a leading trade group, said it is releasing roughly 50 million pounds from its strategic maple syrup reserves, almost half of the stockpile, Bloomberg first reported.
The government-supported organization, which is often called the OPEC of maple syrup, uses its reserves to control syrup prices and supply. As of 2020, Quebec produced 73% of all maple syrup in the world, and its biggest customer by far is the United States, which accounts for around 60% of Canada's export volume.
The strategic reserve was created to keep maple syrup in stock during bad harvest seasons or when demand spikes. That is the case right now following a hot and short spring that led to a lower yield. Historically, 2021 was an average year for maple production in Quebec, with a harvest estimated at 133 million pounds, but sales rose 21% compared to last year, straining the available supply.
QMSP did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CNN Business. "The pandemic helped in our case because we're seeing people cook more at home and use more local products," the group's spokesperson Helene Normandin said in an interview with Bloomberg. "It's not just in Quebec the demand is increasing."
The reserve has made headlines in the past. Between 2011 and 2012, 3,000 tons of maple syrup, valued at nearly $20 million Canadian dollars, were secretly siphoned from the reserve in a notorious theft known as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist.