Canadians Arrest Maple Syrup Thieves

The mystery of the great maple syrup heist has apparently been solved:

OTTAWA — It was an inside job of sorts. Thieves with access to a warehouse and a careful plan loaded up trucks and, over time, made off with $18 million of a valuable commodity.

The question is what was more unusual: that the commodity in question was maple syrup, or that it came from something called the global strategic maple syrup reserve, run by what amounts to a Canadian cartel.

On Tuesday, the police in Quebec arrested three men in connection with the theft from the warehouse, which is southwest of Quebec City. The authorities are searching for five others suspected of being involved, and law enforcement agencies in other parts of Canada and the United States are trying to recover some of the stolen syrup.

Both the size and the international scope of the theft underscore Quebec’s outsize position in the maple syrup industry.

Depending on the year, the province can produce more than three-quarters of the world’s supply. And its marketing organization appears to have taken some tips from the producers of another valuable liquid commodity when it comes to exploiting market dominance.

“It’s like OPEC,” said Simon Trépanier, acting general manager of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “We’re not producing all the maple syrup in the world. But by producing 70 to 78 percent, we have the ability to adjust the quantity that is in the marketplace.”

Since 1999, Quebec’s maple syrup industry has used a marketing system found in other Canadian agricultural sectors, particularly dairy and poultry.

Put simply, the supply management system sets strict quotas for producers and, in the case of maple syrup, requires them to sell their product through the federation.

The sap that becomes maple syrup after being boiled down often flows for only a short period each spring. Weather changes can introduce wild fluctuations in how much emerges from sugar maple trees.

To maintain stable and high prices, the federation stockpiles every drop its members produce beyond their quota. During bad seasons, it dips into that supply.

“In the States you have the strategic oil reserve,” Mr. Trépanier said, continuing with his petroleum analogy. “Mother Nature is not generous every year, so we have our own global strategic reserve.”

That leaves one important question unanswered. Who controls the Strategic Bacon Reserve?

 

FILED UNDER: Crime, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Jay says:

    Who controls the Strategic Bacon Reserve?

    The Danes. Their bacon is at a whole different level than that Canadian stuff, not to mention the undifferentiated fat and gristle that *we* refer to as Bacon.

  2. edmond says:

    Looks like Aunt Jemima and Mrs Butterworth pulled a Thelma and Louise

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    The article is actually interesting. What apparently happened is that the Reserve sublet part of the warehouse they were using to store the maple syrup out. That gave the thieves who sublet it the opportunity to bring in the large trucks necessary to haul the barrels of syrup away.

    The key point I think is that the Canadian system, like most societies including our own, is highly dependent on self-regulation. Rather than preventing people from stealing they were assuming that people wouldn’t steal. Clearly, the assumption didn’t hold.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Clearly, the US needs syrup independence!

    Let’s hope that global warming increases the production of syrup out of New England and gets the foot of the oppressor off our necks (and breakfast plates).

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    “We’re not producing all the maple syrup in the world. But by producing 70 to 78 percent, we have the ability to adjust the quantity that is in the marketplace.”

    All the more reason why we should have invaded, conquered and then annexed the whole of Canada. The oil. The timber. The minerals. The maple syrup. Arguably one of the most glaring missed opportunities in world history. Sigh.

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Spoken like a true imperialist!

  7. george says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    All the more reason why we should have invaded, conquered and then annexed the whole of Canada. The oil. The timber. The minerals. The maple syrup. Arguably one of the most glaring missed opportunities in world history. Sigh.

    But then you’d have to live with the shame of knowing that Celine Dion was one of your citizens …

  8. george says:

    And Justin Bieber …

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @george: Obviously those two would be exiled. If not worse. Ryan Reynolds too. We’d keep the guys from Rush and Triumph and everyone involved with beer production. They’d all be made U.S. citizens and would be provided with great treasures and favors. Most NHL players too. Whiskey producers. The remainder would be our slave labor. Or cannon fodder for other endeavors.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: We tried invading Canada several times. We never proved to be very good at it.

    On another note, I don’t know who controls the Strategic Bacon Reserve, but during Sandy I saw a storm track map from the Canadian Hurricane Centre. Who knew?

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