As the temperature creeps up ever so slowly, and the days grow longer – with a boost from daylight savings – and on occasion the warmth of the sun can be felt on faces, the thoughts of many people turn to maple syrup. Perhaps not everyone, but many.
I must confess that even as a true Canadian, whose flag has an actual maple leaf emblazoned proudly on it, I can take or leave maple syrup. But I found out something the other day that I had never known. While talking to someone who has a sister and brother-in-law who own a maple farm and syrup facility; but not a sugar shack restaurant place where bus loads of senior citizens and students arrive daily during the spring for a ‘traditional’ Quebecois breakfast of eggs, bacon, ham, sausages, beans, and pancakes all drenched in a veritable swimming pool of maple syrup.
While telling me a little about business, she mentioned the annual quotas. It seems the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (La Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec or FPAQ) determines how much syrup each producer should provide each year. According to their website, FPAQ plays a role in setting maple syrup production quotas, controlling the quality of the 150,000 barrels of maple syrup that are annually produced in Quebec, as well as in the collective marketing of bulk maple syrup via a sales agency, the administration of fund advance and payment programs on behalf of maple syrup producers, and the preservation of inventories of pasteurized maple syrup.
Based on calculations involving the number of trees, weather conditions etc. FPAQ informs the producer what they are expected to come up with this year. Should they fall short for whatever reason, they are charged a fee by FPAQ as the federation has been marketing that syrup before it is even produced. For instance if FPAQ determines that this year’s production will be 150,000 barrels, they go out and sell 150,000 barrels through their collective marketing. If only 140,000 barrels are in fact produced, some of the 7300 maple syrup companies missed their quota and must pay up.
It sounds a little bit like OPEC to me.