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Maple-Syrup Mystery Solved

23rd December 2012

Read it.

When the news broke in August that 10,000 barrels of maple syrup worth $20 million had been stolen from the International Strategic Reserve in Quebec, the first question on most people’s minds was, “Why does Canada have a strategic maple-syrup reserve?” followed closely by, “How does someone steal 10,000 barrels of syrup from a warehouse without anyone noticing?”

Yeah, that was my thought exactly.

The answer to the first question is that more than three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup is produced in Quebec, and the Quebec Federation of Maple Syrup Producers, much like OPEC, enforces a strict quota system on producers in order to limit supply and keep prices high. Any excess production goes into the reserve and is tapped when there’s a bad harvest.

With results as you see them. If they let the market take care of it, there wouldn’t be any reserves for somebody to steal. Socialism promotes crime. Here’s the proof.

So what did the thieves do with the syrup? It appears they smuggled it over the border to New Brunswick, which has a free maple-syrup market, and have been selling it to unsuspecting buyers. Since the United States is the largest importer of Quebec’s maple syrup, and it’s difficult to track the substance (It “doesn’t have a bar code,” Lieutenant Lapointe explained. “There’s no way to tell it apart”), it’s quite possible consumers here will end up eating the illicit breakfast condiment.

Markets work, even when you don’t want them to.

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