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There’s a global maple syrup shortage, and Canada has tapped into its emergency reserves

December 8, 2021, 9:14 PM UTC

The great maple syrup shortage of 2021 is upon us, and Canada is taking serious measures. 

The pandemic has significantly increased demand for the “blonde gold.” So much so that global sales of maple syrup shot up by almost 37% in the last year, according to the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers association. Simultaneously, Quebec’s annual maple syrup harvest—which is responsible for the majority of the world’s supply—is lower than last year’s.

That’s why Quebec’s maple syrup producers have turned to their emergency supply for the first time in three years. 

“There were 100 million pounds in the reserve last spring. We estimate that by the time the next season begins in early 2022, about less than half of the stockpile will still be there,”  QMSP spokesperson Helene Normandin told Fortune

Quebec provides 72% of the world’s maple syrup. This year alone, the world produced 182 million pounds of maple syrup, and Quebec accounted for 133 million of those pounds.

But this year’s spring season, during which trees are tapped for their sap, was warmer than normal. For the trees to provide syrup, the weather needs to be just above freezing during the day, and below freezing at night. Production of maple syrup in 2021 dropped by about 42 million pounds from last year’s record high of 175 million pounds, according to the QMSP.

“In 2021, an early thaw caused the sap to start flowing at the same time across the province, and unusually warm temperatures in April brought the harvest season to an abrupt halt. Maple producers are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” the QMSP said in a statement earlier this month. 

And while the QMSP has described this year’s supply as “average,” the drop from last year has made it even more difficult to meet the surge in demand.

“While this has resulted in a decrease in the stockpile, there is no cause for concern: Our organization has the tools in place to meet demand,” the president of the QMSP, Serge Beaulieu, said in a statement.

The QMSP is in the process of establishing about 7 million new tree taps, or spouts to retrieve sap, over the course of three years to compensate for an increase in global demand.

In other words, those of us who absolutely need our maple syrup with our pancakes (or morning coffee, if you’re a little bit fancy) need not worry.  

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