Vermont continues to be the #1 U.S. maple producer

Vermont continues to be the No. 1 producer of maple syrup in the United States as stated by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. In 2015 Vermont produced 47.3 percent of the United States’ maple syrup, a record high production. Over the past five years, Vermont is averaging 1.2 million gallons of syrup each year. According to the Cooperative Extension at Penn State University the Canadian province of Quebec is by far the largest producer of syrup in North America with production exceeding 6.5 million gallons.

High in antioxidants

According to the USDA maple syrup is fourth on the list of common foods with the highest antioxidant content. Recent studies conducted at the University of Rhode Island support USDA findings by revealing that there are 54 different beneficial compounds found in maple syrup. Some of these compounds include minerals such as calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium as well as polyphenol, a powerful phytochemical that is also found in wine.

It takes a lot to make a little

Maple syrup is produced by the simple method of boiling the excess liquid that makes up sap in order to get a highly concentrated syrup. The amount of sap required to make a gallon of maple syrup depends on the sap’s sugar content. The typical sugar maple has a sap concentration of around 2 percent which means it will take approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Timing and temperature

According to the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association a typical sugaring season generally starts from mid-February to mid-March and only lasts for a period of four to six weeks. It is a pattern of freezing nighttime temperatures and thawing daytime temperatures which builds up enough pressure in maple trees to get the sap flowing from tapholes. The sap flow stops entirely once this temperature cycle ends.

Pure maple syrup’s new grading system

In 2015 the USDA issued new rules for grading maple syrup. Under the old grading system, which consisted of grades A, B and C, there was an assumption by consumers that different grades have different intended uses. The new grading system eliminates grades B and C and instead uses four variations of grade A. These new variations refer directly to the color and taste of the sap because syrup produced earlier in the season tends to be lighter in color and more subtle in taste while dark syrup with stronger flavor is made later in the season

The four new grades are:

  • golden color and delicate taste.
  • amber color and rich taste.
  • dark color and robust taste, and
  • very dark and strong taste.

The economics of maple syrup

According to the Cooperative Extension at Penn State University the selling price of sap is determined by sugar content, cleanliness, and freshness with prices ranging from $0.10 to $0.70 per gallon. The USDA notes that the average equivalent price per gallon for maple syrup varies widely across the northeastern region of the U.S. depending on the percentage sold retail, wholesale, or bulk. Also playing a part in the economics of maple syrup is the U.S.-Canadian exchange rate. In 2015 U.S. sugarmakers made out very well compared to their neighbor in the north because the Canadian dollar was approximately 80 percent of the value of the U.S. dollar. Analysts at Morgan Stanley have confirmed they expect the Canadian Dollar to struggle over the course of 2017.

Read more: Maple Syrup Marketing 101