The Link Between Maple Syrup and Being a Community Shared Value

By: Jack Johnson, Destinations International

Over the past year, we have been paying attention to the wide variety of issues resulting from problems with the world’s supply chains. It is a constant reminder of how interconnected the world is and how vulnerable we have become to breakdowns or changes in the chain. The most interesting chain-related shortage that has come to our attention is maple syrupApparently, with more people working, schooling, and just hanging out at home, sales of maple syrup have climbed significantly. Worldwide demand has increased by more than 20 percent. While recent years have been strong ones from the standpoint of maple syrup production, adding to the current syrup squeeze is a much more average or modest harvest this past year.  

FYI – True maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees in eastern North America when alternating freezing and thawing temperatures in spring cause sap to flow. I learned that as a child by going on weekend vacations to Brown County, Indiana for celebrations of all things maple syrup. Southern Indiana is the southern and western-most position in the North American maple sugar belt. The bulk of the production comes from areas north of there, primarily in Canada. That is why coming to the rescue of maple syrup lovers are the syrup producers in the Canadian province of Quebec. They recently announced that they are releasing more than half of the world's only strategic maple syrup reserve to keep up with rising demand. 

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This isn’t the first time the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP), a government-sanctioned union of syrup producers, has come to our attention. This organization controls over 70 percent of the maple syrup market. And while that alone is enough to draw our attention, it was their set of values used in operating the organization that first bought them to us. 

One of the things we noticed as we built out the Community Shared Value concept was that we were in many ways writing a planning document for our industry, complete with vision, mission, values and goals. When you add Destinations International’s Destination NEXT Futures Study, you add industry trends and strategies. We tried to identify another industry that had done this and we could not find any. However, we did find something close in the QMSP.  

The QMSP has been largely successful in stabilizing prices in an industry where the supply is never predictable because of annual variations in production. It does this by having many drums of maple syrup stacked at the Global Maple Syrup Strategic Reserve in rural Québec. Surpluses are stored in good years, and it is from the reserve that syrup is released in the lean years. 

It is a fascinating organization with an interesting history that includes a multimillion-dollar syrup heist. But for our purposes, we are interested in the fact that they laid out industry values, defined them and put them up on the website for everyone to see. 

About the Federation, in their own words: 

Maple syrup is a long-standing symbol of Québec culture. Today it enjoys international renown. This boom in popularity can be attributed to the will and vision of Québec’s maple producers. Over the past few decades, these women and men have worked together with passion and determination to establish a marketing system that is unique in the world.  

In affirming the importance of always applying recognized ethical principles, the following values guide Québec Maple Syrup Producers in its deliberations, actions and decisions: 

  • Community - To always pursue the group interest by favoring collective action and democratic decision-making within our organization. 

  • Openness - To hear the needs of our producers, partners and consumers here and elsewhere. 

  • Passion - To always take energy from the enthusiasm generated by Québec maple products. 

  • Innovation - To distinguish ourselves through innovation to build a bold future. To pursue excellence, support creativity and show leadership in new ways. 

  • Democracy - To build our organization and its orientations through a consultation and governance process that gives everybody a voice in decisions. 

  • Sustainability - To develop Québec’s maple resources in a sustainable manner and ensure that future generations can do the same.” 

When we introduced the Community Alignment Roadmap, we identified our overall industry values. By identifying overall industry core values, we as a group can try to make our decisions and review our performance through the lens of these values. Weaving these values, community by community across the globe, into our relationships with our stakeholders and residents ensures that we share these priorities as we go about building, promoting and highlighting the role of the destination organization as an important part of any community. As we plan for the future of our industry, our plans will be rooted in our role as a community shared value. 

About the Author

Jack JohnsonChief Advocacy OfficerDestinations International

About the Author

Jack manages the overall public policy operations at Destinations International including member advocacy education and training, development of destination tools and best practices, coalition work with peer organizations, industry research and related public affairs activities. Jack is a 2021 Smart Meetings Magazine’s Catalyst Award winner and one of Successful Meetings’ 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry in 2018.

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