As a leading force in the maple syrup industry, the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) proposed maple syrup grade changes that recently gained approval from the Vermont legislature. In support of the Vermont Department of Agriculture, maple producers will begin transitioning to the new maple syrup grades scheduled to take effect at the consumer level in January 2014. The remaining months of this year will give farmers, producers, and resellers adequate time to make any necessary labeling and marketing changes.
The Role of the IMSI in the New Maple Syrup Grading System
Established in 1975, IMSI was created out of the need to ensure the long-term prosperity of the pure maple syrup industry in the United States and Canada. The organization includes maple syrup stakeholders, such as maple syrup producers, maple packers, maple equipment manufacturers, and other key industry members.
The IMSI uses this infrastructure to facilitate effective communication and strengthen collaborative strategies. The IMSI developed equipment-manufacturing standards in the 1990’s, helping ensure that new equipment installations remained contaminant-free. These standards were encouraged in all aspects of the maple syrup production and packing process, and continue to serve as a benchmark reference for government regulators and industry representatives today.
The new maple syrup grade changes are a direct reflection of a challenge that IMSI perceived within the maple industry. Since January 1980, maple syrup has been graded (based on density and translucence) according to the Canadian, United States, Vermont or other state standards. With consumer confusion about these grade differences common, the IMSI (with the interests of U.S. and Canadian producers in mind) began developing the international maple grading system in 2002. Once it is implemented, the new unified system will create clarity, provide continuity for export markets, and help Vermont maple producers compete globally.
An Overview of the New Maple Grades
Applying only to pure maple syrup products, the two primary maple syrup grades are based on color and flavor profiles, clearly outlined in this helpful New Maple Syrup Grades Map and described below:
1. Grade A (with four classifications):
This high quality pure maple syrup grade will be sold in retail markets. Under this grade, there are four separate designations and flavor profiles:
- Golden Color and Delicate Taste: This mild and delicate syrup has a more pronounced golden color. (It is comparable to the Grade A Light Amber grade in the older grading system.)
- Amber Color and Rich Taste: This syrup ranges in amber color (light, medium, or dark) and has a rich and full-bodied taste. (It is comparable to the Grade A Medium Amber or Grade A Dark Amber grades in the older grading system.)
- Dark Color and Robust Taste: Stronger than the lighter color classes, this dark colored syrup has a robust and substantial taste. (It is comparable to Grade A Dark Amber, Grade A Extra Dark, or Grade B in the older grading system.)
- Very Dark and Strong Taste: Typically used for cooking purposes or some table use, this is the strongest maple syrup flavor.
2. Processing Grade:
This second grade of maple syrup is suitable as an ingredient in food products, but is not permitted for retail sale. While it doesn’t meet Grade A requirements, it does meet all other maple regulations and food quality/safety guidelines.
Ordering New Maple Grades with Bascom Family Farms
Bascom Family Farm organic bulk maple syrup products are certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI), carry the USDA organic seal, and have the K-of-K Kosher certification. Our commitment to quality will remain in place when the maple syrup grade changes take place at the consumer level in January 2014.
As a major supplier of maple products for manufacturers, Bascom Family Farms is uniquely positioned to provide the support you require during this new maple grades transition. Be sure to track the latest maple grades legislation and news on our Maplesource Blog as well as updates to our maple syrup grades page.
Remember, if you need expert advice on your product or recipe formulations, we are more than happy to help. Let Bascom Family Farms be your maple source… you can count on us! Call 888-266-6271 or contact us today!