March 22, 2015


Companies tap into Vermont's large maple potential (LISA RATHKE, 3/21/15, Associated Press)

Already, Vermont is maple syrup capital of the U.S., with production traditionally being a side business for farmers. Could a large-scale operation, tapping into thousands of acres of maple trees in a remote northeastern part of the state, be as sweet?

This isn't the old galvanized-sap bucket-nailed-to-a-tree type of operation. This is industrial-sized maple. And companies know there's rising demand for natural sweeteners as consumers turn away from products made with high fructose corn syrup.

Sweetree LLC plans to become the biggest producer of the sticky-sweet stuff in North America. Though the operation has created full-time jobs in a poor region and says it will boost local producers by also buying certified organic syrup, the move has also generated some curiosity and concern from those in the maple business in a state that yielded $49 million worth of syrup in 2013.

The operation, backed by Wood Creek Capital Management of New Haven, Connecticut, chose northeastern Vermont because of the state's brand and large tracts of high-elevation land, which isn't as affected by climate change, Sweetree CEO Bob Saul said.

"Between climate change and the dynamics of Canada, there just aren't that many places in the U.S., let alone the world where you can make maple syrup for the next 20, 25 years," said Saul, who produces his own maple syrup at his home in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Posted by at March 22, 2015 8:05 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus