Not so sweet: How Northeast Ohio is being impacted by maple syrup shortage

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GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – It is a popular breakfast staple.

But worldwide supply shortages have maple syrup taps running dry.

Canada produces nearly 80% of the world’s maple syrup, and now, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers is taking drastic measures to keep the supply chain flowing, by dipping into its emergency supply.

So why the 24% drop in production now?

From Kentucky to right here in Northeast Ohio to Canada, sugar makers say Mother Nature hasn’t been so sweet this year. They say an uncharacteristic spring season is leaving many maple syrup makers very little to work with.

“It was either too warm where it stayed above freezing or too cold where it stayed below freezing. And we didn’t get much for the snow or the rain. That was one of the first seasons we had no snow on the ground for most of the season.”

Tom Salo, owner of Salo Maple Products, has been tapping trees on his farm in Montville for nearly three decades.

In a normal year, he would be preparing to sell his syrup at maple festivals, local markets and holiday-related events.

But this is all that’s left of his supply.

“We have in the back here, there’s five mini-drums left, that’s the rest of my reserve and drums. Normally, I have 15 to 20 15-gallon barrels.”

Quebec maple syrup producers will be releasing nearly 50-millon pounds of its reserve, which is about half of the stockpile and, by far, the United States is the largest buyer of the goods.

But for smaller maple syrup makers, like Tom Salo, getting supply from Canada isn’t an option with the current delays in shipping.

He says tapping season will have to begin sooner than normal next season, possibly as early as January, to help make up for the loss.

Salo adds, “Everything is 100 percent Mother Nature, depending on the seasons when you tap, when you pull your taps, everything is all weather dependent.”

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