Background & History
Quebec contributes roughly 70% of the world’s supply of maple syrup. There are roughly 7,300 maple syrup producers in Quebec, many of them are small family-run farms.
Quebec is known as the ‘Saudi Arabia of maple syrup production’, governed by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ).
The FPAQ gained its powers in 1990 when maple syrup producers were struggling to make $1 CAD per pound. The FPAQ set prices with large buyers and succeeded in raising prices to $2.85 CAD per pound. Eventually, the FPAQ imposed production quotas on maple syrup producers in Quebec, and any syrup produced above a farm’s quota would be confiscated, stored and used to regulate supply in the future event of a bad season.
Small farms can sell cans of syrup direct to the general public, but customers are limited to just 5 litres of the sweet juicy syrup.
In the night time, under the cover of darkness, law-breaker Angele Grenier quickly loads barrels of contraband on to her truck and then races across the border. What is this contraband? Cocaine? No. Heroine? No. Plutonium? Oops, that’s what the Libyans from Back to the Future were smuggling. No, what Angele is smuggling is far worse … maple syrup.
The problem is, Angele lives in the Canadian province of Quebec where maple syrup producers must act under the control of cartel leaders who have monopoly power over the sale of maple syrup on the domestic and international wholesale market.
Another small maple syrup producer in Quebec, Daniel Gaudreau, was accused of selling more than his allotted quota in 2014. Consequently, the FPAQ seized Gaudreau’s entire production and, in a scene reminiscent of an 1980s police action movie, posted guards at his property to stop him from producing more maple syrup.
The FPAQ's Response
The FPAQ’s deputy director, Paul Roullard, defended his organisation’s harsh punishment strategies by proclaiming: “People who say that our practices are totalitarian should go see what happens in China, North Korea, or Africa.”