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Canada is in a sticky situation.

The country is home to the world’s only maple syrup reserve and it’s now running at a 16-year low, threatening the global supply. 

Located across three warehouses in Quebec, the combined stores can hold up to 133 million pounds of maple syrup during any given year. 

However, warmer weather saw the supply fall to just 6.8 million pounds in 2023. 

According to the deputy director general of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, Simon Dore-Ouellet, the supply and price will remain unaffected for the time being. 

“The strategic reserve is holding its lowest amount of maple syrup since 2008,” Doré-Ouellet told the BBC. “But we do not foresee any supply issues in the near future.”

Good news, considering it’s a billion-dollar industry for Canada, with the country responsible for 75% of the world’s maple syrup production. 

Of that figure, almost 90% of that is produced within Quebec, prompting the province to establish the world’s sole strategic reserve of the sweet nectar in 2000. 

Over the last four years however, the reserve has begun to diminish significantly, considering the warehouse was still home to 103 million pounds in 2020. 

The reserve is now only 7% of what it was only four years ago due to poor harvest seasons.

Typically harvested between the months of early March to late April, the product relies on a delicate weather balance of below freezing at night and above freezing temperatures throughout the day. 

This fluctuation in temperatures allows for the maple tree to absorb water from the soil at night while the milder daytime creates pressure to push the water down to the bottom of the tree, offering a more easily harvested sap. 

Warmer spring temperatures in both 2021 and 2023 made for a reduction in maple syrup quantities, dropping by 21% in 2021, compared to the year before. 

Record high production in 2019 and 2020 helped to counterbalance recent years and according to Dore-Ouellet, reserve fluctuations are nothing new. 

“The strategic reserve was put in place to stabilize supply – which is highly weather dependent – for buyers,” he said. “In the last four years, that is exactly what it has done.”

Another reason for low reserve quantities is increased demand for the product. 

Canada exported 151 million pounds of maple syrup to 71 countries in 2021, up 19% from 2020. 

The US, UK, Germany, Australia and Japan are some of the country’s biggest customers. 

However, with Canada coming out of one of the warmest winters on record, syrup producers are keen to see what this year’s harvest output will look like. 

Temperatures in December, January and February were the warmest since 1948, the same year the industry began keeping such records.

Doré-Ouellet remains optimistic in spite of the record high warmth however.

“The sugaring season has come early this year and is still underway,” he said. “So far, production has been plentiful and the weather forecasts are encouraging for the next few weeks all across Quebec.”

But It’s still necessary to build the reserve back up, as it stabilizes the market for both producers and buyers, which is why Quebecois producers installed 14 million new taps over the last three years to get quantities where they need to be.