The ancient method of gathering sap from maple trees and boiling it into a thick, sweet syrup has become more than just an artful tradition—it’s an industry with huge potential.
And in New Brunswick, home to the world’s biggest maple and organic maple producers, success on the global stage is ever increasing, and the taste is sweet indeed.
“Maple production is not just arts and crafts — this is an industry,” says Yvon Poitras, general manager of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association which is working to help over 125 New Brunswick maple producers grow their business.
“In New Brunswick, we’re proud of this traditional industry,” he says.
The province’s precious hardwood forests supply 1.8 million kilograms of maple syrup to markets around the world — including the US, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Germany.
And maple-related sales represent annual revenues of $12 to $15 million (the world’s third largest after Quebec and Vermont) as well as over 2000 valuable local jobs.
The association not only supports and connects maple producers across their province, but helps market the industry and identify potential export opportunities, including during trade shows in food-minded France.
“We set up tasting opportunities during such shows, so that people can really experience the difference: no vanilla, no burnt flavor — it’s all pure maple.”
He also says, unlike in other jurisdictions where three or four kinds of maple trees are used, in New Brunswick, over 95% of producers use only sugar maple trees — which makes for a unique and high quality end product.
“We really feel maple syrup is Mother Nature’s gift,” smiles Yvon.
He also says ACOA’s support for the local maple industry has been instrumental.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if ACOA had not come in, our maple producers and our industry would not be as organized.”
As for the future, Yvon says the local industry has both challenges and opportunities ahead.
“We must compete with up and coming players, like the state of New York, where new supportive programs have been introduced for maple producers,” he explains. “That’s something that could challenge our third place standing in the coming years.”
However, with only 30% of local producers now selling value-added maple products beyond bulk syrup, such as candies, creams and smaller specialty bottles, there remain opportunities to “tap into” new markets.
With that kind of creative thinking, this is one industry that promises to keep turning Mother Nature’s sweet bounty into sweet success for years to come.
View ACOA’s social media release on Kenneth Maple Farms.
Published April 20, 2012