United States eyes SA Maple Syrup Market

South Africa is considered a net importer of maple syrup since 2015, with imports valued at US$647,729 (109 Metric Tons (MT)). Contrary to this fact, the country similarly exported 82 tonnes of maple syrup in 2018 to African countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Wellington Sikuka of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, said the real maple syrup (one that is imported) was expensive in South Africa due to the fact that it was made from corn syrup while the locally produced maple syrup was made from sugar cane which was cheap.

“Real maple syrup is considered expensive in the South African local market, and ranges from R135 (US$9.50) to R149.99 (US$12) per 250 ml. As a result, there are several cheaper alternatives which are priced at least eight times cheaper from R29.99 (US$2.11) to R39.99 (US$2.81) per 500 ml such as Maple Flavoured Syrup, Traditional Syrup, and Golden Syrups,” he said.

The difference between the corn and sugar cane maple syrup was in the health benefits. Corn maple syrup contained 54 compounds that included a variety of beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, while the sugar cane contained 387 calories and 100 carbs.

“For corn maple syrup, there are a variety of medical studies showing that it may aid in fighting cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease,” noted a US based NPO Maple Valley Cooperative.

With changing consumer lifestyle patterns and a strong emerging black middle class across the African continent, corn maple syrup demand is set to rise.

According to the USDA, year to date imports up to March 2021 had already increased fivefold in South Africa compared to the same period in 2020.

Canada was the leading supplier of maple syrup and accounted for 74 percent of the total imports in 2020. It was for this reason that the United States of America was eying the South African maple syrup industry with a peculiar interest.

“Unfortunately for aspirant local producers, there we no known plantations for sugar maple trees and maple syrup production in South Africa. As a result, South Africa may present prospects for U.S. maple exports,” Sikuka elaborated.

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