Many countries keep strategic reserves of oil to control price volatility or to maintain their national security, but Canada doesn’t have a strategic oil reserve. They instead have a strategic reserve of a commodity that is sweet, is great on pancakes and waffles, and is more expensive than oil. It’s maple syrup.
Canada has a Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve in Quebec that contains a stockpile of 62,800 barrels of maple syrup. The 38 million pounds of sticky goodness is worth more than $100 million. Since 2000, Canada has been holding maple syrup in a strategic reserve that is spread across three sites in Quebec. It’s considered the largest collection of maple syrup on Earth.
Maple syrup is very important in Canada, and many people, from producers to sellers, rely on it as their main source of income. The reserve is managed by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, and Quebec is responsible for around 75% of the world’s maple syrup supply. The reason for the strategic reserve is to make sure that there is enough supply of syrup at all times to cover the market demand. This controls price volatility and keeps prices stable. It’s also in place because the production of maple syrup can fluctuate year to year depending on the weather.
Producers sell their maple syrup in bulk to the federation which turns around and sells in bulk to buyers. The federation takes a portion of the syrup during high production years and stores it in the strategic reserve in steel drums. At the time of this writing, the price of maple syrup was $2.14 US per pound. Each drum in the strategic reserve holds 620 pounds of syrup. That makes a barrel of maple syrup worth $1,327 US. By comparison, a barrel of Brent crude is $53.19 US, making the syrup twenty-five times more expensive than oil.
The reserves are stored in highly secured areas that have the security of a bank. Motion detectors, surveillance cameras, and alarms secure the highly valuable commodity. The high security is necessary because in 2012 thieves managed to steal 6 million pounds of syrup that was worth about $18 million. A surplus of syrup had been stored in a third warehouse, and the thieves managed to rent another portion of the warehouse at the same time. This allowed the thieves to drive trucks in and out of the facility undetected. By the time inspectors checked the barrels, they found many of them had been emptied or filled with water. Three men were eventually arrested while the search continued for more people that were involved in the syrup theft ring.