The Maine Center for Business and Economic Research was awarded a $480,000 grant to study US consumer preferences for maple syrup products and develop an interactive tool to assist US producers identify new market opportunities for products and help compete with Canadian imports. The project, in partnership with Maine-based Atlantic Corporation, recently completed a survey of 20,000 US consumer households across all 50 states that will serve as the database for a comprehensive analysis. The first report is due at the end of summer 2020 with subsequent reports and online data tool to follow in 2021. The Executive summary detailing the project is below.
"This project will deliver critical tools and information to reinvigorate the U.S. maple syrup industry by identifying and quantifying local market opportunities for U.S. maple syrup and value-added products (“maple syrup”). Intensive business and economic research will address three key objectives: 1) Consumer Survey – assess consumer attitudes and preferences about U.S. maple syrup by regional market; 2) Business and Economic Modeling – quantification of potential value of US market opportunities for local maple syrup by product and state; and 3) Market Feasibility – development of an interactive, online spatial visualization tool for assessing the value of regional market opportunities for maple syrup. Outcomes include interactive, research-informed models for effective decision-making and greater economic efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness.
Following increases in domestic maple syrup supply and corresponding pricing volatility as well as heightened competition from Canada, the U.S. industry is facing economic pressure that is making efforts to thrive in the market increasingly difficult. As a result, many domestic maple operations are at a risk of failing, the majority of which are small, multi-generational, family operations in rural communities. Increasing consumer support for healthful or organic food that benefits local economies may represent a channel where U.S. maple producers can find sustainable market opportunities, generate more revenue, and improve profitability to sustain farmer livelihoods and encourage growth in the market. This proposal aligns with the USDA AMS producer and landowner education project to improve producer knowledge by providing educational resources regarding business planning and marketing strategies that will encourage a quantitative increase in maple-sugaring activities and maple syrup production."