Canada in crisis as harvest of sugary syrup yields scant supplies

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Canada is tapping its maple syrup reserves as the nation faces a shortage of the creamy maple syrup that has become a staple of the food and drink scene.

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The government of Alberta, Canada’s second largest production region, announced last week that they were starting a three-month sale of the country’s product, which usually runs to November.

It said they only have 18,000 barrels of maple syrup left, less than one week’s worth of supply, prompting the Alberta premier, Rachel Notley, to announce the province would start to sell more of its annual production.

“There’s a fear that once you’ve used up all your syrup supply there’s not going to be anything for the next year,” said Les Sullivan, vice-president of Northern Alberta province agricultural services with the provincial government.

Canada’s trees produce around 50m litres of maple syrup a year but it takes more than three years to process it, so it is then only available for sale for a two- to three-month period in the winter. The shortage is an indication of how global supply and demand are set to change in years to come, according to the Agricultural Marketing Services, a federal government agency.

Over the past three years Canada, whose low season falls in the winter, was able to buy maple syrup from the International Maple Syrup Institute, whose members have tapped more than 250m maple trees in the US and Canada.

But because China is a major buyer of Canadian maple syrup, the government was forced to shut the country’s factory doors on them.

Because Canada does not produce syrup from its trees, it imports it from outside the continent. But as the numbers of taps continue to rise, the quantity of sap running is also increasing.

That will likely mean that by the time the sweet winter is done, Canada will still be out of supply.

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