Unidentified bandits have snatched millions of dollars' worth of maple syrup from the global strategic maple reserve near Montreal, Quebec, according to new reports. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FQMSP) says one of the storage warehouses it oversees was recently breached, which could result in a serious blow to the already struggling maple syrup industry.
The facility, which is located in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford between Montreal and Quebec City, houses a more than $30 million backup stock of maple syrup that is used to stabilize the supply and price of maple syrup during poor harvests or other unstable conditions. There are multiple such storage facilities located throughout Quebec, a province that supplies up to 80 percent of the world's stock of maple syrup.
Though exact figures have not been released, officials says a significant portion of the stock at the breached facility, valued at several million dollars, was stolen. The theft was discovered during a routine inventory check when inspectors noticed that large barrels normally filled with maple syrup had been carefully drained. Rather than steal the barrels outright, the thieves merely siphoned off the syrup as to remain undetected.
"The marketing of the stolen maple syrup will affect the entire maple industry," said FQMSP in a statement. "It is crucial to identify those responsible for this crime."
The group insists that the theft, however large it truly was, should not affect maple syrup supplies for consumers. But it could affect prices, at least in the short term, perhaps driving them lower than normal as honest maple syrup companies lower their prices in order to compete with the dishonest ones that begin selling maple syrup supplies for which they never actually paid.
According to CBC News in Canada, the total amount of syrup that was being held in the facility before the theft represents more than one-tenth of Quebec's 2012 harvest. If its ends up turning out that the entire warehouse supply was stolen, the loss will represent more than 25 percent of FQMSP's entire backup inventory.
Poor 2012 harvest adds to difficulties
Since Quebec's 2012 maple syrup harvest was less than stellar, and America's maple syrup harvest even worse, the recent heist could hurt the struggling industry even more than expected. Exceptionally warm temperatures that began in early spring and persisted throughout the summer all but dried up sap production in many states, which only adds to potential supply problems.
In Wisconsin, for instance, maple syrup production dropped a whopping 68 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 levels, and in Maine, production dropped 32 percent. In Quebec; however, maple syrup production levels dropped only about six percent compared to last year's figures.
The good news in all this is that every maple syrup facility in Quebec that is part of the strategic reserve is fully insured, which means the maple industry will likely not suffer an enormous financial loss from the theft.