Que. maple syrup development projects funded

Quebec’s maple syrup producers and a syrup research agency will split up to $4.3 million in federal funds for product research, testing and international marketing.

The funds will back “notable research with the world’s best scientific experts in this area… on the health benefits of maple products and thereby promote Canada’s emblematic product, maple syrup, as a healthy sugar around the world,” Serge Beaulieu, president of la Federation des producteurs acericoles du Quebec (FPAQ), said in a release Tuesday.

The lion’s share of the funds will go to FPAQ itself, including $2.7 million over three years from the AgriMarketing program for “international market development and export promotion activities.”

The government’s five-year Developing Innovative Agri-Products (DIAP) initiative, which funds industry-backed science and technology projects, will put up another $1.5 million for FPAQ to “explore and promote the nutritional and therapeutic properties of maple syrup.”

DIAP will also flow up to $90,000 to le Centre de recherche, de developpement et de transfert technologique acericole (ACER) to develop and evaluate a new maple syrup testing method which uses an optical spectroscopy technique, considered more efficient and more precise than current testing methods.

That work is aimed at development of “a rapid test to detect the integrity and purity of maple syrup to help authenticate this product,” said Beaulieu, who’s also president of ACER.

ACER, a non-profit agency steered by stakeholders in Quebec’s maple sector, is based about 100 km southeast of Trois-Rivieres at St-Norbert d’Arthabaska, where Quebec MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn, minister of state for agriculture, announced the funding Tuesday.

Canada’s maple syrup, over 80 per cent of which is sold into export markets, accounts for 85 per cent of the world’s maple syrup production. Canadian maple products were valued at $212 million in 2008, the government said, adding that value is expected to increase over the next few years.

Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario and Nova Scotia are considered Canada’s maple syrup-producing provinces. The projects funded are expected to improve the competitiveness of the broader Canadian maple syrup sector.

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