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Maple Grade Changes in Vermont

We wanted to share with you some exciting developments that are unfolding in the maple industry around harmonizing the grading systems for pure maple syrup.

In early 2012, after nearly a decade of work, the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) put forth a recommendation to unify the grading designations among maple syrup producing jurisdictions. The diagram Pure Maple Grades Are Changing shows how the new grading system stacks up.

Butternut Mountain Farm has been actively involved in this process through our relationships with the Vermont Department of Agriculture and our membership in the IMSI as well as other industry associations. The new grading system was arrived at through careful deliberation and investigation into consumer preferences.

Of particular note of the new system:

Places focus on flavor…
Allowing consumers to relate to pure maple syrup based upon the way it tastes, as well as the way it looks. This change brings pure maple syrup in line with its specialty counterparts – coffee, beer, olive oil, chocolate, etc. by placing the focus on flavor.

Makes all maple syrup available for sale at retail Grade A…
Removing the “inferior” Grade B classification for the darkest syrups available for retail sale will allow people to make a decision based upon taste rather than perceived quality.

Allows good flavored very dark syrup to be sold at retail…
This syrup was previously unavailable for retail sale, so, now consumers will be able to purchase the darkest, strongest flavored syrups being produced.

Unifies the grades across regions…
Under the current system consumers face a variety of different standards, for example, where syrup for sale in Vermont is called Grade B, in New York it is called Extra Dark for Cooking, with one harmonized system consumer confusion will be minimized.

The USDA, CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), and the Agencies of Agriculture in a number of maple producing states and provinces have approved rules based on the recommendations of IMSI. In Vermont we began transitioning to the new grading system in 2014. (Vermont’s new maple grading rules may be viewed at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture website).

For more information on the coming changes to the maple syrup grading system please contact us.