SUMMARY FROM THE IMSI BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Location: Longueuil, Quebec
Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
The International Maple Syrup Institute quarterly Board of Directors Meeting was hosted by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers at their office in Longueuil, Quebec, on February 4th 2014. The meeting was well attended by IMSI Directors and others with an interest in IMSI business affairs. This summary is being provided in advance of more detailed formal minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.
A listing of the 2014 IMSI Board of Directors is posted on the IMSI website.
IMSI Financial Report:
The IMSI Treasurer presented a quarterly financial report outlining revenues and expenditures to December 31st, 2013 which was accepted by the Board without amendment. Dave Chapeskie and past IMSI Treasurer, Steve Selby, compared expenditures outlined in the IMSI Work Program Plan with actual expenditures in 2013. Actual expenditures in the general account were about 94% of expenditures estimated in the Annual Work Program Plan Guideline which was approved by the IMSI Board of Directors in February 2013. IMSI Revenues in 2013 were up significantly because of a membership dues increase in 2012 and because of some modest growth in IMSI membership. Dave Chapeskie prepared a Work Program Planning Guide for the 2014 calendar year which was accepted by the IMSI Board of Directors without amendment. A financial monitoring committee comprised of Steve Selby, Gary Gaudette and Jacques Couture reviewed the IMSI financials for 2013 and found the books to be accurate and in order. David Campbell, IMSI Director representing Mapleland Farms of Salem, New York State has replaced Steve Selby as the IMSI’s Treasurer as well as on the IMSI Executive Committee, effective January 1st, 2014. A special thank you is extended to Steve for assisting with the transition to the new Treasurer and David is welcomed to his new role.
IMSI Membership Report:
Dave Chapeskie and IMSI’s past Treasurer Steve Selby updated the IMSI Board on matters related to IMSI Membership. IMSI Membership Renewal Notices for 2014 were sent to IMSI members in January and the deadline for the receipt of completed Membership Forms and payment is February 28th, 2014. IMSI members are strongly encouraged to respect this deadline, as most did in 2013. This reduces the IMSI’s related administrative burden and ensures that revenues are in place when required throughout the year.
Most IMSI members who held a membership in 2012 renewed their membership for 2013 and several new members joined the Institute that year. The IMSI will continue to pursue new members with a primary focus on the few state maple producer associations as well as maple packers who have not yet joined the Institute. All IMSI members are asked to assist this recruitment and advise the IMSI’s Executive Director or any member of the IMSI Executive Committee of potential new members so that there can be follow-up.
Discussions Related to Supply and Demand of Maple Syrup:
The IMSI Board of Director representatives from both Canada and the United States reported on the supply and demand for maple syrup in the different state and provincial jurisdictions. It was reported earlier that a very good or bumper crop was experienced in most areas in 2013 with the production of lighter syrups being prevalent, including in Quebec. Production of maple syrup in Quebec was 120 million pounds compared to 102 million pounds in 2012. Total production of maple syrup for 2013 in Canada and the US combined is estimated at 170 million pounds. At present, there is about 66 million pounds of maple syrup in the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers Strategic Reserve. This record production is attributable to a combination of favourable weather conditions, expansion of number of taps in some jurisdictions and higher average tap yields due to the adoption of modern equipment technologies in recent years.
Current markets for maple syrup were reported as being very good to excellent in all of the states and provinces that reported at the Board meeting. There has also been some very modest growth in overseas markets due in large measure to investments in market development made in recent years by the Canadian government, the Federation of Quebec Maple Producers as well as by maple producer cooperatives and packers in the United States and Canada with significant syrup exports. Simon Trepanier of the Federation reported that sales through the Sales Agency were better than anticipated in 2013. The annual increase in markets for maple syrup was estimated to be in the 5-10% range over the past year based on different reports at the meeting from Canada and the US. Factors which could be spurring growth include, increases in the number of consumers, the current Canada-US exchange rate and possibly other factors. Maple and equipment supply vendors in attendance at the meeting reported that they were very busy and it was challenging to keep up with orders. It was also reported that maple syrup produced in 2013 was committed or sold in many areas. However, some reports suggested that in many areas bulk syrup can be readily accessed by producers and packers who require additional syrup.
While current markets for maple syrup are generally strong and prices are stable, there is some concern that production increases in the future may not be fully absorbed by existing markets for syrup in North America and overseas. The prevailing sentiment, as expressed in recent IMSI Board meetings, is that governments should not incentive capital investments in maple syrup production facilities but rather focus investment assistance on market development both in North America and overseas. In order to avoid future potential imbalances in supply and market demand, the maple industry should be united in developing a strong marketing position and strategy. The distinctive merits of maple syrup as a natural sweetener, its superior nutritional merits, combined with a new international maple grading system and standards, once fully implemented, should be capitalized on in future marketing efforts. An IMSI working group comprised of Mark Harran, Ray Bonenberg, Simon Trepanier, David Marvin and Dave Chapeskie has been established to study the relationship between market supply and demand and work towards development of a marketing strategy for the maple industry.
The IMSI Board discussed the Maple Tap Act in the United States, introduced by David Campbell, and the potential for up to $80 million to be appropriated for the maple industry over four years. It would be advantageous for representatives of the maple industry to advocate at the political level so that this funding appropriation is secured and becomes a reality.
IMSI’s Adulteration Testing Assistance Program:
For many years, the IMSI has facilitated the testing of syrup samples in the international marketplace that have been suspected of being adulterated. All IMSI members are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the IMSI’s adulteration testing assistance if they suspect that syrup is adulterated anywhere in the world marketplace.
In 2013, two samples of syrup obtained overseas which were suspected of adulteration were submitted to Centre Acer and the University of Waterloo in Ontario for adulteration testing. The results from this testing verified that the samples were not adulterated.
IMSI members are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant regarding suspect syrup which is thought 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).
For further information regarding the IMSI’s adulteration service, please contact the IMSI’s Executive Director, Dave Chapeskie.
Organic Certification Committee Report:
Kathy Hopkins, Chair of the IMSI’s Organic Certification Committee, was unable to attend the IMSI Board meeting. Dave Chapeskie, assisted by Mark Harran, led the discussion. The IMSI Board of Directors voted to accept the comparison chart of various organic certification standards which was prepared by the IMSI’s Organic Certification Committee at their Board meeting in 2013.
Following the IMSI Board meeting in Moncton, NB in 2013, the IMSI’s Organic Certification Committee prepared a short draft statement comparing Certified Organic Maple Syrup with Non-Certified Organic Maple Syrup. Once finalized, this statement will be provided to IMSI members to help them address this question in an informed manner without having to spend time researching the difference.
IMSI officials are currently discussing the merits of documenting the very specific differences between Certified Organic and Non-Certified Organic Maple Syrup with reference to best practice and quality assurance manuals. The value of having quick access to this information is that it could be referenced in future discussions with maple researchers, government officials and certifying bodies. Targeted research (i.e. best maple tapping guidelines), combined with industry input into certification amendments, could further narrow the gap between the two.
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 and Advisors. 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 full implementation of the new maple grades and nomenclature standard in the United States and Canada. A communiqué regarding the status of the regulatory amendment process was initiated in 2013 and was updated recently to February 2014. The updated chart is appended to this meeting summary. These updates will continue periodically as we move closer to implementation of the new grade standard. Vermont is preparing to implement the new maple grade standard for the 2014 production season while federal and other state/provincial governments with maple regulations will most likely approve the new standard for implementation in 2015. It is noteworthy that the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association has produced 5000 temporary colour classification kits aligned with the new standard and Lovibond International is very close to releasing a new Lovibond permanent colour classification kit aligned with the proposed International Grade Standard.
The IMSI is now engaged at the political level in both Canada and the United States in an attempt to expedite approvals at the federal level. Most governments are expected to allow for a transition period to facilitate the transition between current maple grades and the new international grades standard.
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.
The IMSI continues to respond to questions and required input from Federal and State/Provincial maple grade rule regulatory authorities regarding specific aspects of the IMSI Grades and Nomenclature Proposal.
Misleading Labeling and Presentation of Syrup Products:
Over the past year there has been considerable discussion regarding the issue of misrepresentation in the marketplace both in North America and overseas of products using the word “maple” or words “maple syrup” and the inappropriate use of visuals taken from the maple industry. Many of these products contain none or very minimal pure maple products. It was agreed that the IMSI should pursue a number of options for countering this situation and become more fully engaged in preventative action.
Some follow-up planned by IMSI is outlined in points below:
In 2013, the IMSI joined the AOPA in order to become more familiar with that organization and to more fully assess its potential in helping assert product authenticity for pure maple products as a long term goal. The IMSI has also been active in referring cases of alleged misrepresentation of maple and maple syrup in the marketplace to appropriate authorities. The IMSI will be placing more emphasis on the maple misrepresentation issue in 2014/2015. IMSI Members are encouraged to continue to bring examples of possible maple misrepresentation to the IMSI’s Executive Director.
Development of a Position Paper on Asian Longhorned Beetle:
Ray Bonenberg, IMSI Director representative for the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, tabled the final draft of the Position Paper he developed with a focus on the Asian Longhorned Beetle. The IMSI Board accepted the final draft of the Position Paper without amendment and Ray was asked to prepare an Executive Summary which will accompany the detailed paper on distribution. The IMSI is in discussion with representatives of the North American Maple Syrup Council and is seeking their formal endorsement of the Position Paper. A further step is to map out planned distribution of the Position Paper in the United States and Canada.
Ray stressed how important it was for the maple industry to remain vigilant and engaged on a continuous basis so that governments continue to rate the issue of exotic pests and in particular Asian Longhorned Beetle as a very high priority for funding research as well as preventative and containment actions.
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 Award guidelines and nomination forms are appended to this summary. All nominations for the two awards must be received by the IMSI Executive Director no later than August 31st, 2014. All IMSI members are strongly encouraged to submit nominations who they believe are worthy recipients of the awards.
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 follow-up discussion in 2014 regarding opportunities to extend the reach of the Grading School in Canada and the United States and to work towards a uniform approach to maple grades awareness and education in North America. This effort will help assist implementation of the new international grade standard for maple syrup.
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.
While the 2014 Maple Grading School offerings have not yet been confirmed, there have been expressions of interest from Nova Scotia, Ontario and Pennsylvania. It is anticipated that the School offerings will be confirmed before the end of March or perhaps sooner. Once confirmed, the School offerings will be posted on the above website. If additional information is required please contact Kathy Hopkins at 207-474-9622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donation to the American Maple Museum:
The IMSI Board voted to donate $1,000 to the American Maple Museum in 2014.
2014 IMSI Board of Directors Meetings:
Thursday, May 8th, 2014 – TBD, Burlington, Vermont
Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 – TBD, Kingston, Ontario
2014 Annual IMSI and NAMSC Meetings:
Wednesday, October 22nd to Friday, October 24th – Old Orchard Inn, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia