New Maple Syrup Grades Rollout

New-Maple-Syrup-GradesIt’s 2015 and the New Year and the new maple syrup grades are officially upon us. While we have discussed this transition throughout 2014, this is a great opportunity to dive back into the details and ensure that your brand is fully prepared for these changes. While labels and marketing will reflect the new grade shift, the exceptional Bascom Family Farms promise remains. You can still rely on the exact same maple syrup flavor each and every time for all your products and needs.

The transition across the states

The International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) proposed these approved grade changes to improve clarity in the maple syrup industry. With the new grades in place, it’s much easier for consumers to understand the flavor of each grade. The descriptive flavors clearly outline the maple syrup scale, from the most delicate to the most hearty.

On January 23rd the USDA issued new rules for grading of maple syrup. TheseAs of January 1, 2015, Vermont producers must now use labels with the new grading system for maple syrup sold outside the state. However, maple syrup with the older grade labels can still be used within the state of Vermont until

January 1, 2017. This means that consumers may still come across the older labels (with former grades) and newer labels (with current grades) on the same shelves in the upcoming months.

New York residents will also likely see the new labels with the new grades on January 1st. New Hampshire has approved the new grades and they need to be implemented by January 1, 2016. As of December 16, 2014, the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) reported that the Canadian government has accepted the new maple syrup grading system. More specifically, the Canadian government stated that the “Maple Products Regulations have been amended” and that “the amended regulations will be published … on December 31, 2014.”

According to Emily Hogeveen, Press Secretary for the Office of Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture for the Canadian government: “The changes harmonize the definition and grading system in the United States and Canada, and give consumers more consistent and relevant information about different varieties of maple syrup.”

The grades

There are now two primary maple syrup grades with additional sub categories based on color and flavor profiles, which are outlined below and included in this clearly illustrated Maple Syrup Grades page [link to page]. To ensure that private resellers and food industry professionals are still guaranteed the exact flavor profile they need, Bascom Family Farms will still maintain our proprietary “seven-tiered” grading process.

The new grades refer directly to the color and taste of the sap that varies throughout the sugaring season. Syrups produced earlier in the season are lighter in color and subtle in flavor. The dark and robust syrups are produced later in the season. Just like it has been for generations, the process to produce maple syrup is fundamentally the same across all grades.

Remember, the new maple syrup grades only apply to pure maple syrup, not imitation breakfast syrups or other fake products. While “Grade B” no longer exists (it is replaced with Grade A Dark Color, Robust Flavor), there are still two primary grades of 100% real maple syrup that have clear and helpful descriptors:

1. Grade A (with four classifications):

This high quality pure maple syrup grade is intended for human consumption and is sold in retail markets. There are four separate designations and flavor profiles under this grade:

Golden Color and Delicate Taste: This delicate and mild flavored syrup has a pronounced golden hue. It is comparable to the former Grade A Light Amber grade.

Amber Color and Rich Taste: This amber colored syrup, which can be either light, medium, or darker in hue, has a full-bodied and rich flavor. It is comparable to the former Grade A Medium Amber or Grade A Dark Amber grades.

Dark Color and Robust Taste: Stronger and darker than the lighter grades, this has a robust and substantial flavor. It is comparable to the former Grade A Dark Amber, Grade A Extra Dark, or Grade B.

Very Dark and Strong Taste: This strongest maple syrup flavor is typically used for cooking purposes.

2. Processing Grade:

The 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 meets all other maple regulations and food quality/safety guidelines.

Starting off the New Year with Bascom Family Farms

As we enter 2015, this is an ideal time for grocery buyers to fully review the category and determine which sizes, grades, and types are best for the upcoming year. Private label customers should already be prepared with new labels and finalized marketing collateral for the January 1st rollout. If you need additional information or have questions about the new maple syrup grades, Bascom Family Farms is always available as a resource. Please call us at 888-266-6271 or contact us today … you can count on us!




New Maple Syrup Grades Legislation Update

Grading Maple Syrup: The Rules are Changing.

Seventh Generation Maple Farmer Arnold Coombs Says Changes Will Eliminate Customer Confusion and Help Vermont Maple Syrup Compete Globally.

A new system for grading maple syrup was approved last week by Vermont lawmakers. The legislature passed a joint resolution supporting the Vermont Department of Agriculture in writing the rules for a new system of grading maple syrup. This newly approved legislation will allow maple producers to maintain current maple-grading rules and apply the maple-grade changes recommended by the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI). Vermont producers will still have the ability to customize their labels with information such as “Made in Vermont” and “Fancy”, but all will have to go by the new maple grades.

Currently, the plan is for the changes to take affect at the consumer level in January 2014. This will allow small farmers and larger producers a year to transition over to the new terminology and make the necessary label changes.

Other maple producing regions in the United States and the Canadian provinces are expected to soon adopt international standards for maple syrup grading. Based on what has been proposed, there will be a grading standard for maple syrup based on color and flavor profiles. There will now be two grades: 1) Grade A with 4 classifications – Golden Color, Delicate Taste; Amber Color, Rich Taste; Dark Color, Robust Taste; Very Dark Color Strong Taste and 2) Processing Grade.

Note, these new international standards would only be applied to pure maple syrup and not fake or imitation breakfast syrup.

Since January 1980, maple syrup has been graded based on its density and translucency according to Canadian, United States, or Vermont standards. As a promotion and marketing organization made up of U.S. and Canadian producers and processors, International Maple Syrup Institute’s (ISMI) primary impetus for changing the grades is to alleviate consumer confusion about the difference between the grades, and have continuity for export markets.

As one of the largest producers of pure maple syrup in New England, Bascom Family Farms is a major supplier of maple products to packers, distributors, manufactures, retailers, and others in the food business. Arnold Coombs, Seventh Generation Maple Farmer and Director of Marketing and Sales for Bascom, is closely monitoring the maple grades change legislation.

“As the volume of maple syrup made in Vermont grows rapidly, an increasing percentage of it will be sold out of state,” said Coombs. “We need to make it as easy as possible for all users to buy our maple. The current way of grading maple syrup is confusing and misleading. The number one question I get asked is ‘What’s the difference between maple grades?’ “

He continued: “Today, consumers are used to descriptors on food packages – Salsa is hot, medium or mild – and we need to make it easy for consumers and retailers to buy pure maple, especially Vermont pure maple syrup. The new grading terminology will do that.”

With the new changes coming, there will be a massive effort in the maple industry to educate producers, buyers, retailers and consumers about the maple grade changes. At their annual open house in March, Bascom Family Farms explained the changes to their key buyers. Additionally, Bascom will create educational materials outlining the grade changes so there is a clear understanding around the (proposed) new grading system. These educational materials will be used to communicate with distributors, retailers and buyers at a variety of events including tradeshows, manager meetings, as well as training events.

Questions about the maple grade changes? Give us a call at 888-266-6271 or email us at