Maple market remains strong
WEST BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - This year’s maple sugar crop is looking strong, and it comes at a time when demand for the product continues to grow.
The maple sugaring season is wrapping up at Robb’s Family Sugarhouse in West Brattleboro, and a sweet season it is. Within 24 hours, all the sap collected over the past few days will be boiled down to maple syrup and a variety of other products.
“We have a gift shop on the end of the sugarhouse and it’s growing all the time,” said Charlie Robb, the 5th generation farmer behind the family run.
And the sap continues to flow from the farm’s 5,500 taps, which bodes well for the direct-to-consumer business. “I’ve never been able to make enough syrup to fill all the orders,” Robb said.
And the experts say more and more people are getting a taste for the region’s sweet product. “We have seen tremendous growth actually in demand,” said Mark Isselhardt with the UVM Extension. And he says the market remains steady. That’s in large part because while 50% of the U.S. maple crop comes from Vermont, more than 70% of the world supply comes from Canada. “Given how much market share the Quebec system has, you are not going to see wild fluctuations in price.”
But the Vermont market also has room for a lot of growth. Only 10% of the sugar maple trees are tapped in the state. “There are absolutely challenges with weather, fuel, labor, and everything, but right now, I think it is a very good place to be a sugarmaker,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. He says carrying the Vermont brand on the label adds value for producers, something the ag agency is trying to capitalize on. “In fact, we are going to have a promotion in Texas, in the Dallas area, so they can learn about it in their barbecue sauces and salsas, etc.”
Robb knows a thing or two about quality. That’s marked by a century’s old label that hangs on the wall of the sugarhouse. “Vermont put a lot into making a name for itself in its syrup and it’s carried over,” he said.
All of the pumps will be turned off at the farm on Tuesday before the last bit of sap is boiled for the year.
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