$30 million worth of maple syrup stolen from warehouse

Maple syrup illustration 
By: Sarah Weiss 

Police were looking into leads after a huge theft of $30 million worth of maple syrup was reported.

The theft depleted the quantity of maple syrup in Quebec, which is considered a global strategic reserve of maple syrup. Quebec's maple syrup is often used to feed the markets during disappointing seasons. Quebec produces up to 80 percent of the world's maple syrup.

Quebec Provincial Sgt. Claude Denis said Friday, it was too early to determine the exact amount or value of the maple syrup stolen from the St. Louis-de-Blandford facility where more than 10 million pounds or 4.54 million kilograms is stored.

The Producers Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup said that it discovered the theft last week during a routine inventory check.

Several empty barrels were found at the St-Louis-de-Blandford facility. Authorities initially kept the news quiet, hoping to help police solve the crime.

Anne-Marie Granger Godbout, executive director of the federation, said that while it is not unusual for individual maple syrup producers to have stolen stock, having millions of dollars worth of maple syrup stolen is very "unusual".

"This is the first time something like this has happened," she said. "I've never seen a theft of this magnitude."

She said the disappearance of this size was not evident at first in the huge warehouse. The installation contains almost the equivalent to half of the total U.S. production of maple syrup in a year, she said.

"The U.S. market is the main market for maple syrup. About 75 percent of Canadian maple syrup is exported directly to the U.S.," she said.

She said the theft was particularly bad after a disappointing 2012 season for U.S. producers, leading to increased demand for Canadian syrup.

She said that auditors would require a few days to determine how many of the 45-gallon barrels were emptied.

Increased theft at the individual producer level led the industry in Quebec to introduce group inventory in places like this, Granger Godbout said.