Recipient of the 2018 Bronze Medal and rated exceptional syrup by the largest tasting contest organized by the Commandery of Maple Artisans, the Sucrerie des Jaseurs from Cantley, Quebec, is officially part of those who redefine the Canadian maple syrup industry.
To give you an idea, the English translation of la Sucrerie des jaseurs, could be something like The Waxwings’ Sugar Shack. Its owner, Benoit Tessier, is a passionate maple syrup producer who spares no effort to perfect his art. He manages, with the help of relatives and friends, some 200 taps on the mountainside behind his residence. His 128 square foot (12m2) sugar shack was custom made. He added a boiler fed by a wood stove.
Over the years, he has managed to reduce his operational efforts by creating a maple water harvesting system that uses gravity, without damaging the maple trees beyond taps. Benoit has set up maple water collection points at different locations on his maple grove. A one-inch pipe connects all collection points. By using the angle offered by the mountain, maple sap added to the collection point converges in a 100 Gallons Stainless Storage Tank. The tank is located a few meters behind the sugar shack and directly connected to the boiler.
The system put in place by Benoit facilitates the control of the flow of maple water to boil, giving him the quantity wanted at the desired time. For Benoit, managing maple water boiling is crucial in the process, since it allows him to achieve the desired density of sugar and shape the taste of his final product.
In the video below (in French with English subtitles), he explains the basics of his system and how he maintains high and constant heat for boiling efficiency.
## Microscale Sugar Bushes and Controlled Designation of Origin
For Benoit, maple syrup is more than just a candy. “Maple syrup is part of our identity, our cultural heritage and we tend to forget it*” he says. That’s why he made it a point of honor to revalue this great wealth of the Canadian terroir.
In a sustainable development perspective, he is proud to produce an organic syrup from a manual harvest without osmosis. His passion for maple syrup production led him to create a model of quality and innovation to set new standards in the industry.
I am convinced that the innumerable subtleties and virtues of this natural sugar are still too little known and specific to each growing medium. I would love to participate in the creation of a controlled designation of origin for maple syrup. – Benoit
Benoit believes that micro-scale maple producers have the opportunity to stand out by creating unique products. According to him, establishing a controlled designation of origin could bring a breath of fresh air in this industry which seems constrained to Statu Quo, especially in Quebec. He shares the idea that maple syrup should be elevated to the same level as so-called noble products, such as wine or spirits.
As for great wine, maple syrup should be observed, tasted and compared, while trying to detect the flavors, subtleties, and aromas of each casting. – Benoit
A controlled designation of origin could allow some emancipation of micro-scale maple syrup producers (those with fewer than 300 taps). By creating taste experiences of exceptions, they would have the opportunity to offer a quality alternative to industrial productions, while stimulating consumer interest far beyond canned syrup.
It is reasonable to say that a wind of renewal is emerging in the industry, and Sucrerie des Jaseurs is one of many who is fuelling it. “There are more and more micro-producers trying out new methods and offering high-quality products,” Benoit said, “and there’s a market for that,” he added.
Although the economic potential of a hundred taps may seem modest, it still represent a few thousands of dollars. Syrup produced by the micro-producers is sold mostly to parents, friends or acquaintances. Word of mouth and social media are the main marketing channels. The economic potential of these small maple producers is still under-exploited because they lack the means to sell and distribute their syrup easily and quickly.
Digital Technologies and Marketing of Small Productions
With the Internet and the latest advances in e-commerce, individuals have the tools they need to properly market products and services formerly reserved exclusively for professionals or businesses.
In Quebec, it may be difficult to operate and market maple syrup production outside the yoke of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. A 2015 report demonstrates that this rigid structure must adapt to changes. Given the redefined social reality and interactions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in this industry is needed more than ever to insure the sustainability of small-scale maple syrup producers
The arrival of maple syrup producers like Benoit, who produce exceptional syrups and market their products online, is one of the changes underway. Solutions adapted to their needs are therefore necessary to support their activities. To sell his syrup, Benoit advocates Facebook, the tool that can reach a significant audience. He was also a test user of RakeAround’s marketplace, an e-commerce app to buy or sell hyper-locally grown products.
Create Awesome Experiences and Stand Out
As Benoit has shown, a production of a hundred taps gives you the opportunity to distinguish yourself by creating unique and exceptional products. By promoting your best practices, the taste and subtleties of your syrup, you will create a personalized link with your customers and will be able to shape authentic experiences.
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