SUMMARY FROM THE IMSI BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Location: Ambassador Hotel and Convention Centre
Date: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
The International Maple Syrup Institute Quarterly Board of Directors Meeting was held at the Ambassador Hotel and Convention Centre in Kingston, Ontario, August 5th, 2014. This summary is being provided in advance of more detailed formal minutes that will be distributed at a later date.
Yvon Poitras, Mark Harran, Richard Norman, David Campbell, Dave Chapeskie, Jacques Couture, Pauline Couture, Pam Green, Richard Green, Dale Forrester, Bryce Gunson, David Marvin, Eric Prud’Homme,Ray Bonenberg,Bev Campbell,Mary Jeanne Packer ,Lyle Merle,John Garwood
Teleconference (Part of Meeting): Gary Gaudette
Pre-Meeting : Michael Herman
IMSI Financial Report:
IMSI Treasurer David Campbell presented a financial report outlining revenues and expenditures for the period of January 1st, 2014 to July 30th, 2014 which was accepted by the Board without amendment.
IMSI Corporate Registration Renewals:
The IMSI is currently registered with the Canadian government with a Not-For-Profit Corporate status. This year, it is necessary for Not-For-Profit Corporations registered in Canada to re-apply for registration and the application must be approved by the Canadian government by October 17th, 2014 at the latest in order to maintain the IMSI’s Corporate Registration status. Dave Chapeskie has prepared the necessary documentation for the renewal application and the IMSI Board of Directors authorized him to prepare a Special Resolution to IMSI members that would authorize the Renewal Application. This will be e-mailed to IMSI members so that they will have an opportunity to vote on the Resolution. Once authorization for the renewal is obtained from IMSI members, the Executive Director will make application for the renewal to Industry Canada. As part of the renewal process, the IMSI’s by-laws will need to be updated so that they align with the new Canadian Not-For-Profit Corporate requirements. When ready, the updated by-laws will be distributed to the IMSI membership and voted on at the IMSI Annual Meeting that will be held on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 in Nova Scotia. Action to renew the IMSI’s US Corporate Registration will be deferred until after the IMSI Annual meeting.
IMSI Market Study Group Report:
The IMSI Market Study Group met prior to the IMSI Board of Directors meeting on August 5th. The study group continued its work on a draft strategy for marketing products for North America. The meeting forum was open to other IMSI Directors and others interested and wanting to contribute to the work of this group. Very good progress was made in setting objectives and outlining a number of proposed actions for each of the objectives. A copy of the record from the meeting is appended to this summary.
Michael Farrell of Cornell University has offered to coordinate an upcoming series of IMSI sponsored news articles to raise awareness across the maple industry regarding the importance of enhancing marketing efforts in North America. This is to complement and enhance marketing initiatives already underway at the regional and local levels in the United States and Canada.
Following the IMSI Board of Directors meeting, a speaker was confirmed (information below) to present as part of the IMSI General meeting to be held at the Old Orchard Inn, in Annapolis Valley in Wolfville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, October 22nd.
ELLEN LANICCA ALBANESE | Senior Vice President
PadillaCRT | NEW YORK
Today’s competitive food environment poses challenges for just about everybody. Several industries have pooled their resources and joined together to drive product awareness and lift entire industry sales. The key to a successful industry-funded initiative is creating a compelling overarching platform that leaves sufficient room for individual brands to promote themselves. Come hear how the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), an agriculture promotion group established to promote the consumption of Hass Avocados that are grown or imported into the United States, and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, an agriculture promotion group representing blueberry growers and packers in North and South America, have created industry-wide programs that are a “win-win” for both the industry and individual companies.
Supply and Demand for Maple Syrup:
IMSI President Yvon Poitras called on state and provincial IMSI Director Representatives to provide an update on supply and demand for maple syrup in their jurisdiction. In general, the supply of maple syrup was described as sufficient, or perhaps in some cases surplus, to meet short-term demand. David Marvin and Gary Gaudette indicated that there was very significant expansion of operations occurring in some areas in the United States. Yvon Poitras advised that 4000 additional hectares had been approved for tapping on public land by the New Brunswick government. Some producers of bulk syrup may have difficulty moving their syrup in the short-term. It is an open question regarding how much growth markets can accommodate in the medium and longer term without depressing prices.
Simon Trepanier of the Quebec Federation mentioned that there were about 60 million pounds remaining in the Federation’s Strategic Reserve. He indicated that about 19% of the syrup produced in Quebec in 2014 was Certified Organic and that market demand for this syrup was strong. He reported that about 12% of the production of bulk syrup in Quebec this year was classified as off-flavoured, due in large part to the lateness of the 2014 production season.
Concern About Off-flavoured Syrup in Retail Markets:
There is some indication that off-flavoured syrup is entering retail markets. Where this happens, it could harm the good reputation of the maple syrup industry. Producers and packers are strongly encouraged to taste each of their syrup batches and do everything possible to identify and work to eliminate off-flavoured syrups from retail markets. These syrups can sometimes be re-processed to meet good quality requirements or used in ingredient applications where the off-flavours cannot be removed through re-reprocessing.
The identification of off-flavoured syrup is an important topic covered in the IMSI sponsored Maple Grading School. The IMSI Executive Director proposed that the IMSI have a print or CD version of information on the potential off-flavours of maple syrup for educational purposes. This would be made available and distributed to the different state and provincial maple producer associations and others. He advised the IMSI Board that the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets had prepared an Extension Note covering the different off-flavours and has authorized the IMSI to reproduce it. The IMSI Board has approved follow-up on this item.
Simon Trepanier presented information on the system used to assess and classify bulk syrups in Quebec, including off-flavoured syrups.
IMSI members are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant regarding syrup which is suspected to be adulterated in the North American and overseas marketplace. Samples should be purchased from retail (4 sealed containers) and forwarded directly to Tim Perkins, UVM Proctor (US IMSI members) and to Yves Bois, Centre Acer (Canadian IMSI members).
There were no new samples received for testing following the May 2014 IMSI Board meeting.
For further information regarding the IMSI’s adulteration service, please contact the IMSI’s Executive Director, Dave Chapeskie.
Misrepresentation of Maple Syrup in the Marketplace:
In the spring of 2014, the IMSI sent out letters to a few companies that are selling one or more products believed to contain no real maple syrup and where product names or labels are thought to be misleading to consumers. While the letters express concern, they are also intended to open the door to the possibility of having at least some of these companies switch to using pure maple as an alternative to artificial flavors or other syrups. To-date, the Coastal Maine Popcorn Company and Quaker Oats have responded to the IMSI letters. The Coastal Maine Popcorn Company responded by changing the name of the popcorn variety and posted on their website that it does not contain any real maple syrup. Quaker Oats appeared sympathetic to the IMSI concerns and requested contact information for a few potential suppliers of pure maple syrup. Other companies contacted by letter to-date include Natures Path, Tim Horton’s and Good Health Natural Products. The IMSI’s Executive Director will continue to monitor the Quaker Oats overture to determine whether or not there is appropriate follow-up and will be following up with companies which have not yet responded. Another batch of letters will be sent out to other companies in September 2014 to extend this effort. A report on the status of this work will be provided at the IMSI’s Board of Directors and Annual meetings in Nova Scotia in October.
There was discussion regarding what the IMSI could do to raise public awareness regarding the label misrepresentation issue. For example, should the IMSI develop a statement outlining their concern regarding label misrepresentation in the retail marketplace? Should this include recognizing companies who are voluntarily addressing the question as part of this effort? A working group comprised of Dave Chapeskie, Pam Green, David Marvin and Simon Trepanier will be meeting by teleconference following the Board meeting to develop a follow-up and recommendations.
The IMSI and the Canadian Maple Round Table will also be providing input into proposed label Regulatory amendments at the federal level in Canada as well as collaborating and sharing information with others, including the State of Vermont, who are engaged in helping address the product label misrepresentation issue.
California Proposition 65 Issue- Maple Update:
David Marvin of Butternut Mountain Farm provided an update regarding status of this issue. Details are confidential.
Organic Certification Committee Report:
Kathy Hopkins, Chair of the IMSI’s Organic Certification Committee, was unable to attend the IMSI Board meeting so Dave Chapeskie provided an update on her behalf. The IMSI’s Organic Certification Committee prepared a concise statement comparing Certified Organic Maple Syrup with Non-Certified Organic Maple Syrup. This statement has now been approved for use by IMSI members when addressing questions regarding the differences and is included below.
Many people wonder about the difference between certified organic maple syrup and conventional maple syrup. Both certified organic syrup and conventional syrup are produced through the same process. Pure maple syrup is produced by evaporating or boiling away the water in the maple tree sap, which has about 2% sugar, until it reaches a minimum of 66 degrees Brix. At this density, maple syrup is a stable product that resists spoilage. Differences between conventional and certified organic include sugarbush maintenance and biodiversity requirements, cleaning products for equipment, processing aids and the type of storage containers allowed. Some of the established best practices that are voluntarily followed by conventional maple syrup producers overlap those that are required for certified organic producers.
To be organically certified, a maple producer goes through a certification process usually administered by a state or Federal level government agency or an organization mandated by the government. Producers accept the ongoing responsibility of record keeping and periodic inspections that verify compliance. The requirements for most organic certifications state that no fertilizers or chemicals can be used on or near trees or in the syrup production process unless they are approved for organic use. Practices that promote sugarbush health must be also followed, such as limiting taps per tree. The producer complying with the organic standards makes sure that all the production processes and sugarbush maintenance practices are aimed at increasing the quality of the product and the sustainability of the environment. The commitment of certified organic producers to these requirements provides assurances to consumers who are committed to organic foods.
The Organic Certification Committee is now working to finalize a chart comparing the key differences between Certified Organic and Non-Certified Organic Maple Syrup( referencing best practice and quality assurance manuals). The value of having quick access to this information is that it could be referenced by the IMSI leadership in future discussions with maple researchers, government officials and certifying bodies. Targeted research (i.e. best maple tapping guidelines, defoaming agents, etc.) combined with industry input into certification amendments could further narrow the gap between Certified Organic and Non–Certified Organic Maple Syrup production requirements.
IMSI Standard Grades and Nomenclature Update:
Dave Chapeskie provided an update on the status of the standard maple grades initiative with the assistance of IMSI Board members. The IMSI has been active in helping move towards government endorsement of the International Maple Grades and Nomenclature Proposal which was recommended by the IMSI to Federal and State/Provincial governments in the United States and Canada in September 2011.
The IMSI recognizes that it is very important to communicate and transfer information to maple producers and packers as we come closer to broad implementation of the new maple grades and nomenclature standard in the United States and Canada.
The IMSI has been engaged at the political level in both Canada and the United States in an attempt to expedite approvals at the federal levels. On May 7th, 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted the USDA maple grades regulatory amendments in the Federal Public Register for a 60 day comment period. Since the end of the 60 day period, USDA staff have been reviewing the comments received. A similar posting for a 75 day comment period in the Canadian Federal Gazette was published on June 28th, 2014.
Vermont has implemented the new maple grade standard for the 2014 production season while we remain hopeful that the federal and other state/provincial governments with maple regulations will approve the new standard for implementation in 2015, where they have not already done so. Henry Marckres reported recently that implementation of the new Maple Grades Standard in Vermont is proceeding smoothly and consumers like the new classification system incorporating both colour and taste descriptors. An updated chart showing the status of the regulatory approval process at the federal level and in the different states and provinces is appended to this meeting summary.
The Vermont Maple Sugarmakers’ Association produced 5000 temporary colour classification kits aligned with the new standard, Centre Acer has produced sample kits and Lovibond International has released a new Lovibond permanent colour classification kit aligned with the proposed International Grade Standard. The IMSI approved purchase of one of the new Lovibond kits for the IMSI sponsored Grading School.
The IMSI Executive Director and IMSI Maple Grades Committee members continue to address questions from maple producers, maple packers and government officials regarding grade and nomenclature changes. Dave Chapeskie and Henry Marckres have been responding to press inquiries.
Distribution of Asian Longhorned Beetle Position Paper:
The IMSI Executive Director has distributed the North American Position Statement Paper for Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALHB) to political and government officials in both Canada and the United States so that it can be put to work for the industry. Further distribution may be completed later as required.
Ray Bonenberg, IMSI Director for Ontario has agreed to begin work on an implementation plan to help address ALHB. He will report on the status of this work at the IMSI’s next board meeting in October.
IMSI Sponsored Awards (2014):
The IMSI will continue to offer the Lynn Reynolds Memorial Leadership Award and the Golden Maple Leaf Award in 2014. The IMSI Award Guidelines were distributed to the IMSI members early in 2014. All nominations for the two awards must be received by the IMSI Executive Director no later than August 31st, 2014. IMSI members are strongly encouraged to submit nominations for who they believe are worthy recipients of the awards. Members should contact Dave Chapeskie, if they have any questions.
IMSI Sponsored Maple Grading School:
The IMSI will continue to support the Maple Grading School. The School continues to be rated highly by course participants and the IMSI Board is strongly supportive of its continuation. The School now offers a component related specifically to enhancing course participant awareness regarding the IMSI Standard Grades and Nomenclature Initiative, including the use of new temporary colour classification kits.
There will be dialogue in 2014 regarding opportunities to extend the reach of the Grading School in Canada and the United States and to work towards a more uniform approach to maple grades awareness and education in North America. This effort will help assist implementation of the new international grades standard for maple syrup. Follow-up dialogue between Centre Acer and those responsible for designing and offering the IMSI Sponsored Grading School is now underway.
The IMSI members and others may learn more about the IMSI sponsored Grading School and its upcoming offerings by accessing the University of Maine – Cooperative Extension website with the following link: http://extension.umaine.edu/maple-grading-school/. Applicants for the grading school may register on-line.
A 2014 Maple Grading School offering has been confirmed for Monday, October 20th and Tuesday, October 21st at the Old Orchard Inn in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Another grading school designed for Canadian and US government officials with a primary focus on the new standard grading system is being considered. Once confirmed, all IMSI sponsored Maple Grading School offerings are posted on the grading school website. Please contact Kathy Hopkins at 207-474-9622 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
IMSI Nominations Committee for 2015:
A 2014 IMSI Nominations Committee was selected to develop the slate of nominees for Executive Committee officers and IMSI Directors for 2015. Nominations Committee members are Richard Norman, Yvon Poitras and Dave Chapeskie. Anyone who wishes to submit a nomination for an elected Executive Committee position or for a position on the IMSI Board of Directors should contact Richard, Yvon or Dave.
2014 IMSI Board of Directors Meetings:
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 – Old Orchard Inn, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
2015 IMSI Board of Directors Meetings:
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015, Holiday Inn, South Burlington, VT
Friday May 15th, 2015, American Maple Museum, Croghan, NY (to be confirmed at the
IMSI Board meeting in Nova Scotia in October)
2014 Annual IMSI and NAMSC Meetings:
The 2014 Annual IMSI and NAMSC Meetings will be held from Wednesday, October 22nd to Friday, October 24th – Old Orchard Inn, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. The IMSI Annual meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 22nd. Overall NAMSC-IMSI Meeting Program details and the registration Package are posted on the IMSI’s website www.internationalmaplesyrupinstitute.com. Please note that there will be no hard copy mailout of the registration package this year. You may download the package off of the IMSI or NAMSC websites OR contact the IMSI’s Executive Director and he will send you copy.
Dave Chapeskie, R. P.F.,
International Maple Syrup Institute
August 23rd, 2014
Appendices: Record of Meeting – Market Study Group
Updated Status Chart for Regulatory Approvals – Standard Grades Initiative