x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

A syrupy story

The apparent heist involving Canada's sweetest export may not be all that it seems.

The world's strategic reserve of maple syrup is stored in a warehouse in Saint Louis de Blandford (population 903) in southern Quebec, in Canada. Security will now have to be tightened.

Canada claims to produce almost 80 per cent of the world supply of the sticky elixir, and most of it comes from Quebec, where 13,500 landowners, mostly farmers, have a nice sideline in tapping trees for sap each spring, and boiling it down into syrup.

Like the world's major oil producers before them, les producteurs acéricole have formed a cartel, to support prices. But putting all 4.5 million kilos of the stuff in one warehouse can be risky: the producers' group has announced that an unspecified amount has been stolen. Police say "millions of dollars" worth are missing, with empty barrels left behind.

Questions abound: how do you steal that much syrup? Transport it? Sell it? Why not take it in its barrels?

Already there is, alas, speculation that this may all be an accounting or inventory error, or an effort to create a false shortage, to drive up prices.

Frankly, we hope not. We much prefer the idea of a mysterious criminal mastermind, cackling over his illicit hoard and working out a scheme to steal a few thousand kilos of pancake mix.