Maple syrup is delicious – who can argue with that? But is illicit maple syrup even more deviously delicious? Someone must think so. Millions of pounds of the stuff were stolen out of a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec, belonging to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.
Reports indicate that 10 million pounds of maple syrup were stored at the warehouse, valued at over $30 million. Why so much maple syrup in one place – because the federation represents Quebec’s 10,000-plus maple syrup producers, who account for up to 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup supply, and that warehouse was home to the federation’s “global strategic maple syrup reserve.” So, in other words, this is a little like staging a heist on Fort Knox but for someone who’d rather roll around in gallons of delicious sugary syrup than bricks of gold.
Or perhaps it was more like robbing a bank truck –The Globe and Mail reports that the warehouse the maple syrup was being held at during the theft was only temporary. The federation noticed the theft during an inventory check last week, while preparing to move the syrup to its permanent location. For the past week, the federation kept mum in the hopes that it would help the police; even now, while they’ve gone public about this dastardly maple syrup heist, some facts are still up in the air:
Anne-Marie Granger Godbout, executive director of the federation, said the organization is still trying to determine how much is missing and declined to offer an estimate. But a spokesman from the Sureté du Québec said the loss was significant.
“We know that it’s millions of dollars that was stolen,” said Sergeant Richard Gagné. “It’s a very large amount.”
At least there’s a bit of good news for the maple syrup producers whose products were involved in the heist: all that maple syrup was insured, so there won’t be any financial loss on their end. There also isn’t expected to be a run on maple syrup, so breakfast lovers can rest easy for now. But the federation’s leaders are still worried that this could have lasting implications within the industry on both a local and a global scale:
“Obviously those people stole the maple syrup to sell it somewhere,” [Godbout] said. “If it’s a big volume, it could be very harmful for the maple syrup industry. The companies that are working in this industry will have to compete with some company that didn’t pay for the maple syrup.”
Sylvain Charlebois, who researches food policy at the University of Guelph, said any disruption in the maple syrup supply could damage hard-earned gains the industry has made in global markets. The federation has been working particularly hard to build a market for the product in Asia, where it’s less well known. “If they’re not concerned, they should be,” he said of the federation. “This is such a fragile industry, and any loss on the supply side could be devastating.”
The police are now facing the arduous task of determining exactly how much syrup was stolen, and attempting to track it down on the black market – a task that they have already described as “problematic.” With any luck, the syrup will be recovered and returned to its rightful place. But in the meantime, go give your bottle of maple syrup a hug right now, knowing that it’s safe in rightful hands. Then maybe make some pancakes and pour a little syrup out (onto those pancakes) for all those gallons lost.